I’ve extracted the smoking section of my groundbreaking book Detox Your World (published by North Atlantic Books, USA — hence the spellings not being British) for you to lap up. Enjoy. Kind of…
Even if you don’t smoke, please read this. There is some valuable information in here that you may be able to pass on to a loved one who smokes.
Most adults smoke because they are now addicted after being subjected to childhood peer pressure. When I lived in Spain, most of the adults smoked. As with my native Brits, they knew that smoking caused cancer, but that knowledge was hidden under thoughts of “Let’s go out and party, hang round and look cool with our mates, and ask groovy guys or girls for a light.” However, all across the Western world, more cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking tobacco than to any other single risk factor.
In the UK more young girls than ever smoke because the antismoking messages aren’t as effective as peer-pressure and subliminal prosmoking messages.
If you have children, know that they are influenced by your behavior the most. Bring them up to respect themselves, to believe in themselves, and to always want to create the best possible situation for themselves—this might just make a difference to the choices they make around their peers. And if that doesn’t work, let them read the rest of this section.
Watching a Smoker Die
When I originally wrote this chapter, I lived in the same house as a smoker. He was seventy-eight, and so was doing well compared to most American men who only live to an average age of seventy-five (it’s eighty for women). But I knew that the end to his life wouldn’t be graceful, pleasant, or pain-free. You see, the doctors thought he had lung cancer. Every night, he coughed the most painful cough.
Remember when you last had a cold with a cough? You cough and cough for three days in a row, and you think “I can’t take any more of this; my throat is red raw.” Imagine the three days turning into three weeks and then three months, and imagine the pain multiplying at the same rate.
Then imagine vomiting every meal up, as this man did. Your stomach is wretched, and your body is saying “no more,” yet every last ounce of instinct has been squeezed out of you, so you justreach for another cigarette. At least you can keep that down. Imagine, too, waking up with blood on your pillow every morning, not knowing anything about it until you see it. Imagine it getting worse, not better, because you won’t give up smoking and the hospital says you’re a lost cause.
If you smoke, you have a 50 percent chance of not having to imagine—it’s heads or tails that it happens to you.
Why Do so Many Turn a Blind Eye?
People in our culture still seem so blind to cancer, though it hits one in three of us at some time in our lives and kills one in four of us. Lung cancer is by far the biggest killer, taking nearly half a million cancer victims to their grave each year. The second biggest killer, colon cancer, trails at a lowly 52,000 a year. There are more than 200 types of cancer, but the big four—lung, breast, colon, and prostate—account for more than 50 percent of all new cases.
About 50 percent of smokers will die of lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases such as heart disease and chronic lung disease. About 50 percent of those die before middle age. So if you smoke, you have a 25 percent chance of a very early death. If you manage to escape an early death, you can look forward to aging about ten years faster than a nonsmoker, causing you to look and act a lot older than you really are.
Imagine not living to see your children grow up, not collecting the pension you dutifully paid for every month, and leaving your soulmate behind.
Although nearly half a million Americans die each year from lung cancer, it’s the single most preventable cause of early death in the world. It’s also not confined to just smokers. If you don’t smoke, but you live, work, or play with smokers, then you’re at risk too. Passive smoking is responsible for around 50,000 deaths in the United States each year. If you have cigarette smoke in your daily life, take steps now to alter the situation by finding smokefree environments. Your health is your only wealth, don’t let other people compromise that for you.
Let’s look at these facts:
Death from lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States.
Smoking causes nine out of ten cases of lung cancer.
Smoking is also a risk factor for cancer of the bladder, kidney, cervix, throat (pharynx and larynx), mouth, esophagus, pancreas, and stomach as well as for some types of leukemia (cancer of the blood).
Smoking causes about a third of all cancer deaths.
Smoking kills one person every eight seconds.
Passive smoking is particularly harmful to babies and children whose parents smoke in the home and may cause or contribute to: miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, glue ear, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
The Toxins in Smoke
Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause cellular damage. Some are carcinogenic.
The main ingredients of cigarette smoke are nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, acetone, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, and formaldehyde.
Nicotine doesn’t cause cancer but it is a highly addictive and very fast-acting drug. Once inhaled, nicotine reaches the brain in less than fifteen seconds. Most smokers are addicted to nicotine and crave cigarettes to feed their addiction. This is the key ingredient that keeps people buying cigarettes and keeps the tobacco companies in business.
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Remember the carbon monoxide public awareness advertisements?
At the same time that the government was telling you to get your boiler checked because carbon monoxide is lethal, they were still profiting hugely from cigarettes. When you smoke, carbon monoxide is taken up by your bloodstream quickly and impairs your breathing. Inhaling too much carbon monoxide causes you to go into a coma and die by asphyxiation.
How much of a toxin is too much? We know that toxins taken in in small amounts might not kill immediately, but they do have a long-term effect on your body, which has to try to expel or at least safely store them.
Tar isn’t one chemical like the other cigarette-related ones listed, but rather a combination of chemicals. Many of these are known to cause cancer. Around seventy percent of the tar in cigarettes is deposited in the smoker’s lungs.
Acetone is the strong smelling ingredient in nail polish remover. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has specifically listed acetone as one of the few solvents that is not a Hazardous Air Pollutant and does not cause cancer or other very serious illnesses.
It’s interesting to note, then, that when animals are exposed to acetone over a long period of time they suffer kidney, liver, and nerve damage; increased birth defects; and lowered ability to reproduce in males. I don’t cite animal studies in this book because they go against the gentle and ethical way of living that I pursue, but you can guarantee that if animals suffer the above effects, then humans will also suffer some of them to some degree.
Small amounts of inhaled acetone are broken down by the liver into non-harmful chemicals, but breathing moderate to high levels of acetone for short periods of time can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation; headaches; dizziness; confusion; increased
pulse rate; sickness; unconsciousness; and maybe even induce a coma. Swallowing very high levels of acetone can result in unconsciousness and damage to the skin in your mouth. Skin contact can result in irritation and damage to your skin.
Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in the air may cause severe burns to your skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. It can also cause high blood pressure. In extreme cases, you could go blind, suffer lung damage, have a heart attack, or die. Breathing lower concentrations will cause coughing and nose and throat irritation.
If you swallow ammonia, you could burn your mouth, throat, and stomach. Concentrated ammonia spilled on the skin will cause burns, irritation to the nose and lungs, lung damage, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Scientists don’t yet know whether ammonia can cause cancer and so the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the EPA haven’t classified ammonia for carcinogenicity.
Arsenic cannot be destroyed in the environment, but it does change forms. If you breathe high levels of arsenic, you can expect a sore throat or irritated lungs. If you ingest high levels of arsenic, you could die. Even if you’re exposed to lower levels of arsenic, you could experience sickness, decreased production of both red and white blood cells, and an abnormal heartbeat.
If you ingest or breathe low levels of arsenic over an extended period of time, your skin may darken and you could get small warts on your palms, soles, and torso. Though organic arsenic compounds are less toxic than inorganic arsenic compounds, exposure to high levels may result in similar effects.
Arsenic can increase the risk of lung cancer, skin cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO), the DHHS, and the EPA have all determined that inorganic arsenic is a human carcinogen.
Benzene is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, service stations, car exhaust fumes, and industrial emissions.
Indoor air often contains higher levels of benzene from products such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents.
If you breathe in high levels of benzene, you could become drowsy and dizzy, while your heart rate increases, you get tremors, and you become unconscious. Very high levels can result in death. Some women who breathed in high levels of benzene for several months have reported irregular periods and a decrease in the size of ovaries.
If you ingest high levels of benzene via food or drink, you may vomit, become dizzy and sleepy, and have convulsions and a rapid heart rate. Again, death may result.
Your blood is affected by long-term (over a year) exposure to benzene. It’s harmful to your bone marrow and can cause your red blood cells to decrease. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene can also cause leukemia. The DHHS states that benzene is a known human carcinogen.
Cadmium is a natural element in the earth’s crust. Fish, plants, and animals take up cadmium from the environment. Cadmium can build up in your body from many years of exposure to low levels.
When you smoke, you breathe in cadmium. If you breathe in high levels of cadmium, your lungs can be severely damaged, and you could die. Even if you are exposed to lower levels of cadmium in your air, food, or water over a period of time, it will build up in your kidneys and could cause kidney disease, lung damage, or fragile bones.
The DHHS says that cadmium and cadmium compounds “may reasonably be anticipated to be carcinogens.”
Also known as methanol, methylene oxide, oxymethyline, methylaldehyde, and oxomethane, formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable gas that has a distinct smell. Formaldehyde dissolves easily.
Most formaldehyde in the air breaks down into formic acid and carbon monoxide. Smog is a major source of formaldehyde, as are cigarettes, gas cookers, and open fireplaces.
Your eyes, nose, throat, and skin can be irritated by low levels of formaldehyde. People with asthma may be more sensitive to the effects of formaldehyde when they inhale it. Drinking large amounts of formaldehyde can cause severe pain, vomiting, coma, and possible death.
The DHHS says that formaldehyde may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen.
More Chemicals Than You Can Shake Your Cigarette At
The above-mentioned chemicals all combine together to become even more deadly. When reading the list, it’s easy to realize how the death and cancer statistics can be so high. Remember:
Smoking kills one person every eight seconds.
And so it goes on. For more information on how to Detox Your World, you can get my book on Amazon.
PS: Please remember to share this post. Many people’s lives could change for the better when you do so.
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