7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

almost all public places in the United States have been made smoke free. But even though the smoking rate has steadily declined, smoking is still the leading cause of death and preventable illness in this country and much of the world.

On a trip to Colorado , I visited Seven Falls in Colorado Springs. Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Cañon. To get to the falls, you walk a one-mile scenic path through the canyon, passing trees, towering cliffs and a winding stream. Along the way, I  passed more “no smoking” signs than I have seen anywhere else.

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On the path to Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

Those signs inspired me to write a post about smoking. I grew up when smoking was socially acceptable and widely practiced, and no one worried  about the health effects. My mother and her friends smoked, even in our house. She would drive us to the grocery store, stay in the car and send me inside with 50 cents to purchase a pack of cigarettes for her. She told me, “Tell the clerk it’s for your mother.” In today’s world, my mother would be arrested for child neglect for doing that.

When I was an adult, she quit the habit but unfortunately not before smoking had caused atherosclerosis (hardening) of her leg arteries,limiting blood flow and making walking  painful. Surgery corrected this, but the arteries in her brain were also affected, leading to dementia in late life.

Cigarette advertising was everywhere; billboards, television, magazines. Even JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, had cigarette ads. I went to medical conferences where, during the breaks, physicians would go into the lobby and light up cigarettes. After just listening to a lecture on heart disease!

All that changed when scientists uncovered the harmful effects of smoking. The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required the following health warning, prescribed by Congress, to be placed on all cigarette packages sold in the United States:

CAUTION: CIGARETTE SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act

Gradually,  almost all public places in the United States have been made smoke free.  But even though the smoking rate has steadily declined, smoking is still the leading cause of death and preventable illness in this country and  much of the world.

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Most people know that cigarette smoking harms our health, being directly linked to heart attacks, strokes, lung and other cancers and emphysema.

But you may not know about some other conditions that smoking causes or aggravates. I’m going to share those with you along with some photos from my walk at Seven Falls.

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pregnancy and babies

Smoking affects fertility, pregnancy, and infants . Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect a man’s sperm. Smoking increases risks for:

  • Preterm (early) delivery
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
  • Low birth weight
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
  • Ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy
  • Cleft lip in infants
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diabetes

Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can impair control of blood glucose (sugar).  The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers. Diabetes is a major cause of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries in the heart, kidney, legs, which is also aggravated by smoking.

bones

Smoking can affect bone health, leading to osteoporosis. Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked, and are at greater risk for broken bones. Smokers tend to hurt more than non smokers and narcotic type pain meds don’t relieve pain as well as in non-smokers.

teeth

Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss. It yellows the teeth as tar builds up in the enamel, also leading to bad breath.

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eyesight

Smoking can harm your eyesight. It increases your risk for

  • cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see) and
  • age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision).

inflammation

Smoking aggravates and may even cause several chronic inflammatory diseases, including

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus- SLE or lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis

skin

And, it affects your appearance.

By decreasing circulation, smoking causes the skin to weaken and be more susceptible to infection, wrinkles and acne.

And it increases the risk for grey hair and baldness.

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This is the bad news. Fortunately, the good news is that there are many resources available to help you quit smoking. The link at the bottom will lead you to help. Of course, you should ask your  own physician for advice.

 

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arrived at the falls

Here is the link to becoming

  SMOKE FREE

For help from your state quitline:

1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669)

 

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at the base of the last fall

Another interesting and fun attraction in Colorado Springs

the U.S. Olympic Training Center 

gym at the U.S. Olumpic training center
gym at the U.S. Olumpic training center

In this fictional story, one of the main characters quit smoking. You can too.

                                                  Say Goodbye for Now

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW- A Novel
SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

sharing the HEART of getting smoke free

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

10 Silent Signs of Diabetes

10 signs that might mean diabetes#diabetes#heartdisease

Diabetes mellitus type 2, sometimes called “sugar diabetes”, is one reason  I have posted several articles about obesity.  Obesity is strongly associated with diabetes.

People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing diabetes, and if they are diabetic, their blood glucose (sugar) will be more difficult to control. Unfortunately, some of the medicines used to treat diabetes cause weight gain, or make weight loss difficult.

Diabetes and obesity are interrelated; we don't always know which came first.
Diabetes and obesity are interrelated; we don’t always know which came first.

Diabetes is a serious disease.

People know cancer, heart disease, stroke, AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease are serious, but tend to pay little heed to diabetes. They would be more concerned if they realized that diabetes directly contributes to many other conditions that decrease quality as well as length of life.

Diabetes directly causes 

  1. atherosclerosis, a fancy name for narrowed or blocked arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood; depending on which arteries this can lead to heart attacks, stroke, loss of vision-retinopathy,  limb pain and amputation
  2. loss of kidney function, called nephropathy, which can progress into ESRD (end stage renal disease)
  3. damage to nerves, causing painful neuropathy with numbness and tingling in the feet, impotence, bowel and bladder dysfunction, dizziness among other symptoms.

diagram of the human heart
Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )

Now there is good news.

First, diabetes is easy to diagnose; a simple blood test, sometimes repeated for confirmation, can find it quickly.

Second, through a combination of lifestyle  and medication, diabetes can be controlled effectively.

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Diabetes is treated with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. Many diabetic persons monitor their blood sugar regularly.

Anyone can develop diabetes; even children and teenagers are developing it now.

We know that some people are at greater risk- so they should be tested for possible diabetes at more frequent intervals. But anyone with these symptoms should see their doctor to discuss testing .

  • • extreme thirst
  • • increased hunger
  • • significant weight loss without trying
  • • unexplained fatigue
  • • blurry vision
  • • frequent urination
  • • tingling hands and feet
  • • sexual problems
  • • sores that don’t heal
  • heat intolerance in warm weather

Persons at higher than average risk include 

  • older age, especially over age 40
  • overweight/obese persons
  • women with history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Black, Native American and Hispanic persons in the United States;  (worldwide various other ethnic groups are at higher risk)
  • Family history of diabetes, especially if in a parent or sibling
  • Persons with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol

It is especially important to control blood pressure and cholesterol when diabetes is present.
It is especially important to control blood pressure and cholesterol when diabetes is present.

Detailed information about diabetes can be found here

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Health Information Center

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