Stop Smoking - Smoking and Cancer

By Ralph Ferriss

There is strong evidence that suggests that people who smoke cigarettes on a regular basis for a long period of time are at an extremely high risk of developing larynx and lung cancer. Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how it is that smoking causes these types of cancer, as it is not yet understood clearly.

Normal cells that experience damage are able to repair themselves on their own. Sometimes cells are completely removed and then are replaced by the body's lymph system. This process can start to go wrong, however.

Cells can grow abnormally, taking on inappropriate shapes and performing incorrectly. When they do, and that growth reaches a certain level that the body can't cope with, the result is cancer.

Many of the substances that are found in cigarette smoke have been proven to be carcinogenic.

When the paper in a cigarette burns, it releases tar. Each cigarette tends to contain between 10 and 14 milligrams of tar. This tar collects in the tiny air filled sacs of the lungs, called alveoli, where oxygen is usually transferred into the blood. The presence of tar in the alveoli irritates the cells and eventually leads to their unnatural growth.

Nitrosamines are another compound and are also present in cigarettes. Hundreds of different studies administered with small mammals have proven that these compounds are also carcinogenic. Nitrosamines such as NNK, NNN, and NAT are all present in cigarette smoke in extremely small amounts, about 56.53 nanograms.

A few dozen nanograms (one billionth of a gram - 1 g = 0.0353 oz) may sound like a small amount. But sometimes small amounts can have a large effect. Dog's noses, for example, are so sensitive they can detect a few molecules of certain substances. Some systems in humans are equally sensitive to certain chemicals. Add to that the fact that many of the compounds and their effects are cumulative and the case begins to look very strong.

No study has found any link between cancer and consuming one or two cigarettes per day. But such smokers are extremely rare and the odds of them catching some other serious disease are so much higher it may be masked. A smoker who consumes a pack a day for 20 years has 2-4 times the chances of getting lung cancer than a non-smoker.

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