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Quit Smoking – It’s Bad for your Cat a p r i l 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 33 There is now an anti-smoking ad that is trying to appeal to smokers’ love for their cats. Cats that live in the homes of smokers are more likely to die of cancer and other diseases. If it’s not a powerful enough reason to quit for your own health or for the sake of your human family, then by all means, quit for your cat. Allow me to give you some specific and concrete information about why smoking is bad for you and your cat. I speak to people everyday about how their smoking addiction is hurting their health. For the most part, people understand that smoking is “bad” and that they are at an increased risk of cancer. It seems though, that their belief is that the harmful effects of smoking are far off into the future and something to worry about “later.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, because the harmful effects of smoking are affecting organ function now on a day to day basis. Long before causing cancer, smoking causes COPD, Cataracts, Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Infertility, Impotence, Psoriasis, Reynaud’s phenomenon and many other illnesses. Smokers have a general life expectancy of ten years less than non-smokers. There are many toxic elements in tobacco, even smokeless tobacco, that cause disease and illness. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds including carbon monoxide, arsenic, cyanide and formaldehyde. E-cigarettes aren’t currently monitored or controlled by the FDA, so there are large discrepancies in content from manufacturer to manufacturer, but formaldehyde and other cancer causing compounds have also been found in the solution that is then mixed with nicotine in the cartridges. Even the “nicotine-free” cartridges have been found to have traceable amounts of nicotine. Obviously, inhaling the poisons in cigarettes is harmful, but nicotine itself is a poison in the body beyond its addictive properties. Nicotine causes vasoconstriction or tightening of the arteries of the body so that blood doesn’t flow as quickly and easily to the places that it needs to go. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to skin, muscles, nerves, bone and soft tissues. Some tissues don’t have blood flowing to them directly and they have to rely on nearby blood vessels to leak nutrients and oxygen by diffusion to get what they need. A person who smokes is automatically making their heart work harder by having to push blood into the body against the resistance of the narrowed arteries. This causes high blood pressure. The body works harder to get blood flowing therefore it has to decide which organs need the blood and oxygen the most. The brain, heart, liver, lungs and kidneys are the “vessel rich” organs that need it the most. The skin, nerves, bones, discs of the spine, ligaments and other areas get less. Skin is the largest organ of the body and its appearance is a tell tale sign of what’s happening on the inside of the body. Smokers look older than they are because their skin isn’t getting enough blood flow and oxygen causing early wrinkles, sagging and a dull, dry, off color look. More and more studies on the effects of tobacco use are showing that chronic pain, especially neck and low back, is directly related to smoking. The discs of the spine only get oxygen and nutrients through passive diffusion of blood flow from nearby spinal arteries. Discs that don’t get proper blood flow and nutrients are more likely to have early degeneration and lose their cushion effect on the spine which can cause nerve pain and damage. Slower tissue growth and healing is a major problem for all smokers whether they are healing from a relatively minor injury or surgery. Any type of chronic pain is made worse by smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes because those toxic elements accumulate in the tissues and prevent the body from healing itself. Unfortunately chronic pain isn’t always preventable or treatable but the decision to smoke can be changed and the harmful effects of smoking can be reversed if done early enough. LESLIE R. DELANEY, MD


Alive_April_2016
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