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Friday, April 11, 2008

Tobacco

Here is a plant that had gain popularity over the centuries. I am posting this to make some of my friends be aware of the long term effects of this plant called tobacco.

Tobacco comes from plant nicotiana tabacum. It can be smoked, chewed or sniffed. When inhaled, tobacco smoke could reach the brain in matters of seconds. Spit tobacco enters the bloodstream through the gums and takes a while longer. Although tobacco contains other chemicals the main ingredient that acts in the brain and produces addiction is nicotine. When nicotine gets into the body it is distributed throughout the body and brain where specific types of receptors known as cholinergic receptors could be activated.

Cholinergic receptors are normally activated by the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is produced in the brain, and by neurons in the peripheral nervous system. Acetylcholine and its receptors are responsible in maintenance of respiration, heart rate, memory, alertness, and muscle movement. The chemical structure of nicotine is similar to that of acetylcholine. It could activate cholinergic receptors. The difference is that, nicotine can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Frequent nicotine use, changes the number of cholinergic receptors and the sensitivity of these receptors to nicotine and acetylcholine. Habitual smokers are entice to smoke and chew tobacco more often to maintain the levels of nicotine the brain had been used to.

Recent research had shown nicotine stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. The effect of the release of dopamine is similar to that of taking heroin and cocaine drugs. This had been thought to give pleasure to smokers. Such that, according to studies some smokers who switched to lower nicotine cigarettes subconsciously smokes more. There are times the smoker would inhale more deeply or cover the filter of his cigarette to hold the smoke longer.

Now, what are the long term effects of smoking and chewing tobacco? Do take time to read these.

Hypertension – high blood pressure

Congestive heart failure – ineffective pumping of the heart leads to accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Coronary heart disease – narrowed arteries lead to heart attack and death

Strokes – blocked blood flow to the brain or bleeding in the brain.

Cancer - of the lungs, upper respiratory tract, larynx, mouth, throat, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix – etc.

Emphysema – the very small airways (bronchioles) that join the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lung lose elasticity. Patient loses ability to exhale fully, and chemical balance in the blood is disturbed. There is no cure for emphysema.

Chronic bronchitis – the airways of the lungs change shape and size and the mucous glands are enlarged, causing coughing and production of sputum.

Reproductive damage – abnormal sperm cells, impotence, difficulty maintaining pregnancy, menstrual disorders, early menopause, birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight.

For smoking mothers - premature birth, or can lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or “crib death” that is seemingly healthy babies die without warning.

For smoking mothers- prior to birth, a baby can have upper respiratory problems, ear complications, asthma. Among others- premature wrinkled skin, permanent tooth loss, lost or weakened sense of taste, weakened immune system, stomach ulcers and unwanted weight loss.

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