Risks to Your Lungs

In mechanical terms, our lungs can be described as the site of gas exchange: Oxygen–the fuel all the cells and organs of our body need to function–is extracted in the lungs from the air we inhale and is infused into the bloodstream, to be distributed to other organs and tissues. With each exhalation, we dispose of the carbon dioxide that is the by-product of our bodily processes.  In our lungs, during the course of a single day, an astonishing 8,000 to 9,000 liters of breathed-in air meets 8,000 to 10,000 liters of blood pumped by the heart through the pulmonary artery.

The lungs relieve the blood of its burden of waste and return a refreshed, oxygen-rich stream of blood to the heart through the pulmonary vein.

Lung Cancer

Smoking is responsible for almost 90% of lung cancers cases amongst men and more than 70% amongst women. Worse, when you get lung cancer, you’re very likely to die from lung cancer.  It is 92% fatal amongst men, and 88% fatal amongst women.

Smokers are 10 times more likely to die from lung cancer than a non-smoker. If you’ve smoked since the teenage years, the lung cancer rate increases to nineteen times higher. Men who smoke more than a pack a day have about 20 times the lung cancer likelihood of non-smokers.

Cigarette smokers also run a much higher risk of being struck down in their prime by many other forms of cancer as well, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. Cigarette smoking is also associated with higher rates of cancer of the urinary bladder and kidneys.

Emphysema

Emphysema is one of several chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.  It causes abnormal swelling and destruction of lung tissue. Lungs maimed by emphysema eventually lose their elasticity and breathing becomes a continuous agonizing struggle. There is little hope for a significant recovery once afflicted with emphysema. Lung tissue once destroyed by emphysema can never be replaced, turning its victims into respiratory cripples who spend agonizing years gasping for breath.

Cigarette smoking is also associated with higher rates of peptic ulcers, stomach disorders, and periodontal disease.