body talk
10 reasons you might not know about
why you should quit:
1It takes longer to recover from an illness and
from surgery if you’re a smoker. Non-smokers
are at an advantage when it comes to surviving
life-threatening illnesses, and often survive in

cases where smokers do not. Dr Mukansi says,
‘Smokers have increased post-operative wound
complications, especially those who smoke one or
more packs a day.’
2Everyday air pollution from car exhausts,
industry wastes, etc, increases the risk of lung
cancer for smokers, but not for non-smokers,
whose lung-cleaning system effectively clears out
much so that it’s tempting to block some the pollutants.
of it out. But there are a number of hard 3Smoking is recognised as the single most
significant cause of early mortality and
preventable morbidity.
not ignore, warns Candice Verwey
4Smoking reduces the effectiveness of certain
vitamins in the body, particularly vitamin A,
which supports respiratory health, and vitamin C,
Inside rot
which supports immune function and prevents the
formation of certain cancer-forming substances in
the body.
5People who smoke a pack a day lose, on
average, two teeth every 10 years of their lives.
Dr Naidu says that smoking increases your risk of
periodontal disease, causing swollen gums, bad
breath, and ultimately tooth decay.
6Cigarette smoke is loaded with benzene,
Fatal addiction
carbon monoxide, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide
and polonium 210 – all toxins that destroy life.
7The blood vessels in the eye are sensitive
and are easily damaged by cigarette smoke,
causing a bloodshot appearance and itchiness.
Heavy smokers are twice as likely to get macular
degeneration, resulting in a gradual loss of
eyesight. Smokers also have an increased risk of
developing cataracts.
8In cases where both parents smoke, a teenager
is more than twice as likely to start smoking as
teenagers whose parents don’t smoke.
9Smoking affects sexual performance. Says Dr
Naidu, ‘For men in their 30s and 40s, smoking
increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by about
50 percent. Smoking can damage the blood
vessels and nicotine narrows the arteries, reducing
blood flow and the pressure of blood in the penis.’
10The first two actors who played the legen-
dary Marlboro Man both smoked copious
cigarettes for commercial filming – and they both
that’s inhaled. It contains five times died of lung cancer. Their legacy is a warning to us.
30 spring 2008 life
body talk
Nicotine and depression
According to Dr Mukansi, a link
an increased level of these feel-
has been identified between nico-
good neurotransmitters. Nicotine
tine withdrawal and depression,
withdrawal, on the other hand,
anxiety and other neuropsychiatric
causes reduced levels of these
conditions, which may explain why
hormones, which can exacerbate
smokers battle to stop smoking,
the symptoms of depression.
especially if they are depressed.
‘Substances that elevate the level
Recent theories suggest that
of these neurotransmitters, such as
nicotine has an effect on several
the antidepressant Zyban, may
neurotransmitters in the brain that
be the answer to relieving the
are related to the brain’s excita-
depression associated with nico-
tory systems, including dopamine,
tine withdrawal,’ says Dr Mukansi,
serotonin and norepinephrine.
‘thereby preventing the relapse
Patients addicted to nicotine show
to smoking.’
smoking is
the single
biggest thing
you can do to
improve your
Now’s the time to quit
For more information on how to quit smoking, visit
Smokenders at, the Allan Carr
method at, or call Quitline on
011-720-3145 (open weekdays 8am – 5pm).
your doctor. The Cancer Association perhaps a weekend away. For clinical psychologists at Life Healthcare hospitals
countrywide, contact Janet Young at fax 086-500-7535
The Allan Carr method
or email
For specialists such as physicians, cardiologists,
pulmonologists at Life Healthcare hospitals, contact
The big withdrawal
Janet Young at fax 086-500-7535 or email
34 summer 2008 life
life spring 2008 00


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