Tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking have been on the rise in the recent decades. This present generation has been taking up these habits and the trend is consistently on the rise. These habits are known to have a negative effect on health and body ranging from illnesses to life-endangering emergencies. The negative effects of smoking and alcohol are known to all. In spite of this awareness, little decrease in the incidence of smoking and drinking alcohol is seen.
The following are little insights into the effects that smoking and alcohol have on our body.
1. Heart Attack/Myocardial Infarction
Clearly the most serious effect, in terms of mortality, is the causation of myocardial infarction or heart attack. It is primarily attributed to smoking but chronic alcohol intake can aggravate it by messing up with cholesterol metabolism in our body and helping in its accumulation. Smoking mainly leads to a biochemical attack on the inner walls of the arteries, in this case, those of the heart.
Smoking also leads to a hypercoagulable state in the body which leads to platelet activation and their forming clumps and blocking the arteries. The blood supply to the muscle of the heart is compromised and it suffers from ischemic (lack of oxygen) injury. The cells in the affected muscle of heart die and it affects the contractility of the heart and the person has an episode of heart attack.
It can cause severe chest pain usually left-sided radiating to the left arm associated with sweating, breathlessness, palpitations, and sense of anxiety. In certain cases, it can also lead to sudden death.
Both smoking and alcohol are known to lead to all types of cancers starting from the head to entire body. Smoking has been linked traditionally to lead to lung cancer. Lung cancer is usually detected when it causes a mass effect which actually causes the symptoms and in this stage, the cancer is mainly in advanced stage and usually leads to death eventually.
Smoking and alcohol have been known to cause all types of gastrointestinal tract cancers like oral cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, intestinal cancer and gallbladder cancer. All these cancers are also detected in advanced stages and severely affect the quality of life. The main pathology affected by smoking and alcohol is that they lead to cell injury and interfere with the process of cell repair and the cells begin to grow and multiply uncontrolled.
Smoking also leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the lungs which is due to injury to the lung tissue due to years of smoking. Patients usually present with a chronic cough and it also predisposes to lung cancer.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is also an untoward effect of smoking and alcohol. The main effect of smoking and alcohol in this scenario is due to effect on the vessel resistance due to injury on vessel lining.
High blood cholesterol is caused due to hampering of body metabolism by smoking and alcohol. The increased cholesterol causes lipid deposition in blood vessels which compromises blood supply to the organs.
6. Peripheral vascular disease
Due to hypercoagulable state and cholesterol deposition in the blood vessels, the blood supply to parts of body is decreased and it can present as severe pain in legs on walking, pain in fingers and in severe cases where there is complete blockade, it can also cause gangrene in which case the limb will have to be amputated.
The specific effect of mechanism causing peripheral vascular disease in the brain is stroke where a clot forms in one of the blood vessels supplying the brain. Depending on the part of brain affected, it can cause paralysis of affected part of body
8. Gastric acidity and reflux disease
Both smoking and alcohol are known to cause increased acid secretion in the stomach and are irritant to the gastric lining cells. Smoking also leads to relaxation of lower esophageal sphincter which leads to reflux of gastric acid up into esophagus which presents as heartburn.
9. Premature aging
Alcohol and Smoking are linked to increased wrinkle formation due to interference with cellular repair mechanism. However, the speed of aging depends upon the frequency of your drinking. The more you drink and smoke, the more you speed up the clock.
10. Liver cirrhosis
Alcohol leads to fat accumulation in the liver and chronic intake leads to cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol depletes the process of nutrient absorption that aids in carrying oxygen to all the parts of body.
It is evident that alcohol and smoking lead to disease in almost all the organ systems of the body. The effect of one contributes to that of the other mostly in all cases.