Watch out: Three commonly overlooked side effects of smoking
By Hao Lu
Most people know smoking can do extreme harm to their lungs and hearts. However, few of them have ever thought other commonly overlooked side effects of smoking, which are the effects tobacco use has on their eyes, hair and oral health.
How smoking harms your vision
Smoking has been linked to cataracts and macular degeneration, which are two of the leading causes of vision loss.
Cataracts has been considered as an age-related condition which occurs when the eye’s naturally clear lens grows cloudy, and patients develop blurry vision and cannot see things clearly. Smoking alters the cells of the lens through oxidation, which means that the more you smoke, the more likely you will develop cataracts. Heavy smokers who puff 15 cigarettes a day or more have up to three times the risk of cataracts as nonsmokers, according to the Department of Health in New York.
Studies also show that risk of smokers developing age-related macular degeneration, a disease causing “blind spots” and impairing central vision, is three times higher than nonsmokers.
Smoking and hair loss
Smoking not only hurts your eyes, but your hair too. Studies show that smokers have thinner hair than nonsmokers, since the toxic chemicals in smoke can damage the DNA in hair and generate cell-damaging free radicals. For men, that means smoking will increase their risk of baldness.
Thin hair may sound OK to some people, but hair loss should be a big threat to heavy smokers. Smoking contributes to hair loss by slowing down your hair growth rate while speeding up the rate at which your hair falls out. When you smoke, the toxic byproducts go into your body, making it difficult for your hair cells to reproduce into healthy ones.
Smoking and oral health
Smoking can actually make you four times more likely to develop oral cancer, which also brings bad breath, stained teeth, teeth discoloration, decreased sense of taste and smell, and poor healing of mouth sores.
Some young people believe that smokeless tobacco products, like chewing tobacco, can be safer to health, which is not true. Chewing tobacco releases a variety of chemicals into the body, potentially leading to cancer of the throat, mouth and gums.
Smoking tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede from your teeth. Once it recedes, the teeth roots will become exposed, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay.
This post is also available in: Chinese