Health Talk: On Smoking, Tuberculosis and Human Health

Health Talk: On Smoking, Tuberculosis and Human Health

By Irfan Bashir Wani

After having been ranked the state with the highest number of smokers, the cases of Tuberculosis are on rise in Jammu & Kashmir due to consumption of smokeless tobacco. This was disclosed by Dr. Gautam Sharma, Dental Surgeon, University of Jammu and ex-president of the Indian Dental Association (IDA) while interacting with the doctors and students of Institute of Dental Sciences (IDS), Sehora, Jammu during a poster presentation function held on Wednesday to mark the World No Tobacco day 2017.
He said that there was an increase in the number of people who are becoming addicted to chewing tobacco in J&K.. Industrial workers and labour classes which have migrated to J&K from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal, Bihar and Chhattisgarh and so on are worst affected by tobacco pouch lesion on buccal mucosa as well as leukoplakia and other precancerous lesions due to heavy use of chewing tobacco.
Due to low immunity, some of these people are already suffering from the diseases like Tuberculosis (TB) . Frequent spitting during the use of chewable tobacco leads to the spreading of TB to the general public. The government and health authorities are finding it difficult to tackle multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
As per the available report of the Jammu and Kashmir’s TB Cell of the Directorate of Health Services, the state has registered 11172 Tuberculosis positive patients in 2013 and 1032 fresh cases recorded in two months in January and February 2014.
The effects of smoking on human health are serious and in many cases, deadly. There are approximately 4000 chemicals in cigarettes, hundreds of which are toxic. The ingredients in cigarettes affect everything from the internal functioning of organs to the efficiency of the body’s immune system. The effects of cigarette smoking are destructive and widespread.
Smoking’s Effects on the Human Body
Toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke travel throughout the body, causing damage in several different ways;
Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled. It has been found in every part of the body and in breast milk;
Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing affected cells from carrying a full load of oxygen;
Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly;
The carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene binds to cells in the airways and major organs of smokers;
Smoking affects the function of the immune system and may increase the risk for respiratory and other infections;
There are several likely ways that cigarette smoke causes damage. One is oxidative stress that mutates DNA, promotes atherosclerosis, and leads to chronic lung injury. Oxidative stress is thought to be the general mechanism behind the aging process, contributing to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and COPD;
The body produces antioxidants to help repair damaged cells. Smokers have lower levels of antioxidants in their blood than do nonsmokers.;
Smoking is associated with higher levels of chronic inflammation, another damaging process that may result in oxidative stress.
Tips for quitting smoking
Planning how you are going to quit can be very useful. Suggestions include:
Decide on a quit date and stick to it;
Think about prior attempts to quit and what went wrong. Plan how to avoid the same pitfalls this time;
Write a list of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking and refer to this list whenever you feel tempted to light up a cigarette;
Throw away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays in your home and car. If your partner smokes, suggest that they stop too, or only smoke outside the house and away from you.
Plan for situations that you know make you want to smoke;
Avoid possible weight gain by eating more fruit, vegetables and whole meal cereals, and less processed food that is high in fat and sugar (such as chips, biscuits, lollies and soft drink). Do some exercise you enjoy, such as walking or swimming;
Your body will absorb more caffeine than usual after quitting. Cut down on coffee and tea to prevent caffeine-induced anxiety and restlessness;
Treat yourself with the money you have saved. Your efforts deserve to be rewarded;
Remember, if you do have a cigarette, it’s not the end of your quitting attempt. A slip-up is a setback, not a defeat. Take note of what your triggers may be and plan how to avoid these in the future. After a slip-up it is safe to keep using quitting medications, including nicotine replacement products, and to keep trying to quit.
Benefits of Quitting

Quitting at any age will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic bronchitis and several other health conditions related to smoking. The earlier you quit, the greater the health benefit. Your health will improve in the first few months after quitting, benefitting your heart and lungs, increasing blood flow to your hands and feet, and improving your immune system.
Although quitting can initially be stressful, after six months, your stress levels and mood may be better than when you smoked.
People who quit smoking by the age of 30 live, on average, 10 years longer than they would have if they had kept smoking, and avoid most smoking-related disease. Even quitting at the age of 60 means on average you are healthier and live a few years longer. If you already have a smoking-related disease, quitting will improve your condition and help with your treatment, compared to someone who keeps smoking.

—The author is currently working as a nursing officer at SKIMS, Soura. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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