Published: 31st May 2018
Taking a smoke break? Here's a step-by-step guide to what it does to your body
Have you always wondered what exactly happens to your body when you take that puff? Well, this is how your body supports your habit
Tobacco in any form, smoking or chewable is equally harmful to your body, says Dr Anita Ramesh, Head of Oncology, Saveetha Medical College and Senior Consultant at Apollo Cancer Centre. She says that a cigarette has nicotine and tobacco - nicotine is addictive and tobacco is the component that causes the damage. Just a single cigarette might not cause cancer but smoke 20 cigarettes a day over a period of a few years and lung cancer or oral cancer is almost inevitable.
This is what happens over years of consuming tobacco -
1. When the smoke first enters the body it first lines the mucous lining of the nose.
2. The smoke affects all the cells around the mouth, the tar starts to coat the enamel. It also deadens taste buds, gets your salivary glands working overtime and then eventually renders them useless, leading to you to not being able to salivate.
3. The smoke also causes gum diseases and oral cancer and manages to damage the olfactory system as it slowly travels through the mouth.
4. As it passes through the throat, the smoke causes an irritation and the chain-smoking causes the cell linings of the throat to erode which eventually modifies the way the cells form and regenerate - this what causes throat cancer.
5. When the smoke enters the trachea or the windpipe, the hair linings along the pipe gets damaged stopping it from performing its action of blocking foreign objects from entering the pipe.
6. In the same way, the smoke affects the hair (cilia) in the bronchus (passage leading to lungs) as well, this leads to increase in production of mucous and because there are no cilia to prevent blockage, the mucous accumulates. There is tar build-up in the lungs as well.
7. When the smoke mixes with the bloodstream during this time, the tobacco also begins to affect the DNA and it starts to develop changes.
8. Over the years, tar settles in different organs in the body. The DNA damage leads to regeneration of cells and tumours.
Over the years, these actions affect different parts of the bodies but besides leading to tumours in the lungs, throat and oral cavity, it also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other airway infections, smoking causes inflammation and impairs immune function.