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Friday, September 18, 2009

How Smoking Affects Your Lungs

Posted by patrick

By Barb Hicks

Smoking causes over 443,000 deaths in the United States each year that could have been prevented while second hand smoke kills over 50,000 people each year.

Smoking cigarettes exposes your lungs to at least 49 carcinogens such as formaldehyde and ammonia. Your lungs have natural defenses which are being destroyed each time you take a puff on a cigarette, forcing your lungs to work harder to oxygenate the cells of the body. Smoking also depletes the elastin, an enzyme that enables lung flexibility. Without elastin, you are more susceptible for the development of emphysema.

When a cigarette is inhaled, tar coats the lungs damaging them and the heart. 160,000 deaths in the United States are smoking/heart related deaths each year. In addition, smoking creates a rise in blood pressure and increase clotting time which then leads to stroke.

Effects on the lungs:

The lungs contain tiny air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and gases through a thin layer of epithelial cells. The surface of alveoli are covered with a thin layer of pulmonary surfactant that keeps the alveoli from collapsing on exhalation. Smoking causes damage to the alveoli, preventing their ability to receive oxygen from the blood. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women.

Lung Cancer:

Lung cancer is not always caused by smoking. There are numerous cases where people have died from lung cancer and never smoked a single cigarette. Of the 20,000 new cases that appear, 10 to 15% of them will be non smokers. The additional causes of lung cancer include:

Second-hand smoke Arsenic Asbestos Chromium Radon gas - the number one cause of lung cancer in those who don't smoke. Excessive exposure to radiation

How lung cancer develops:

Carcinogens from the air in our homes, work or environment cause lesions on the lungs which begin to grow into tumors resulting in lung cancer. These growths can be noncancerous or benign or cancerous or malignant. As they grow, they begin to put pressure on other nearby organs creating severe pain. It is very unfortunate that most lung cancers are not detected until they are in their late stage.

Treatment for lung cancer?

Treatment is totally dependent upon the type and extent of the malignancy, as well as the patient's health. Choice of treatments includes surgical intervention, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these choices. Clinical trials of new and innovative procedures are another avenue that can be taken. Your doctor will have information on clinical trials that may be available to take part in.

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