Home' Australian Pharmacist : March 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- March #03
Continuing Professional Development
Submit your answers online at www.psa.org.au and receive automatic feedback
smokers' bodies via inhalation.
Of these compounds, over forty are
proven to be carcinogenic and impose
dangerous effects on the immune
system, key body functions, vital
organs and thus on the life expectancy
of the smoker.1 In this context, it
is important to note that the long-
term health effects of smoking,
summarised in Table 1, are not
confined only to common respiratory
symptoms and diseases, but include
a wide range of significant conditions
that smokers should be aware of
every time they light up a cigarette.
On the other hand, short-term effects
of smoking are related to nicotine
dependence, which is mediated
by specific neurotransmitters and
reward systems in the brain. They are
manifested as strong cravings and
withdrawal symptoms, developing
shortly after stopping smoking.
They include irritability, aggression,
depression, restlessness, poor
concentration, increased appetite and
As far as life expectancy is concerned,
it should be noted that cigarettes
kill one third to one half of all
lifetime users. No other consumer
product is as dangerous or kills as
many people. In fact, tobacco kills
more than AIDS, legal drugs, illegal
drugs, road accidents, murders and
What are the benefits of
The benefits of smoking cessation are
now well established. For instance,
some changes, summarised in Table 2,
start immediately within hours of
stopping, as the body starts to repair
itself gradually.1 Moreover, successful
quitting can increase life expectancy
by up to 10 years.4 The sooner the
quitting date is set, the more lung
function can be restored and the
better the prognosis will be.5
How does nicotine
The development and introduction
of various pharmacotherapies have
provided significant assistance for
smokers trying to quit. As a result,
every patient attempting to quit
Table 1. Long term health effects of smoking1
Bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, pneumonia, lung cancer
Coronary artery disease, hypertension, ischemic heart
disease, myocardial degeneration, atherosclerosis,
heart attack, peripheral vascular disease
Increased risk of brain haemorrhage or stroke
Cataracts, macular degeneration
Mouth, lips, throat, larynx
Inflammation, gingivitis, periodontal diseases,
increased risk of cancer
Brittle bones, osteoporosis
Delayed wound healing, wrinkles
Stomach and intestines
Tender lining, bleeding, ulcers, increased risk of
Pancreas, kidney and bladder Increased risk of cancer
Depressed immunity, increased risk of infections and
Male reproductive system Lower sex drive, decreased sperm count and
movement, increased risk of penile and anal cancer
Female reproductive system Lower sex drive, egg damage, irregular menstrual
cycle, altered hormone levels, early onset of
menopause, increased risk of anal, cervical and
Pregnancy and babies
Placenta praevia, increased risk of miscarriages and
still births, lower than average birth weight, high
risk of sudden infant death syndrome, increased
risk of impaired mental and physical development,
higher rates of asthma, respiratory, middle ear and
meningococcal infections in children
Table 2. Health benefits of smoking cessation
Beneficial health changes
Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris.
Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body.
The senses of taste and smell are improved.
Breathing becomes easier.
Bronchial tubes start to relax.
Energy levels increase.
2--12 weeks Circulation improves.
Respiratory problems improve as lung function is increased by up
Risk of heart attack decreases by half that of a continuing smoker.
Risk of lung cancer decreases by half that of a continuing smoker.
Risk of heart attack becomes similar to someone who has never
Birth-weight of newborn increases.
Risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and sudden infant death
Adapted from McEwen et al, 2006
Links Archive April 2011 Australian Pharmacist February 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page