Cigarettes & JUULs
Big topic this week you guys we are talking about Smoking! This is super important and we all know how bad it is not only for your beautiful skin but the health effects it causes including but not limited to... lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. But… even knowing that we glamorize smoking. And we don’t blame you! For years we have seen models, actors and actresses demonstrate this side of them that sucked you in. It wanted you to go Hey! I want that! Which is exactly what we did and that's how our society became influenced to smoke. Then you become addicted finally unable to kick the habit. Furthermore, some of us used it as a means of weight loss and to keep our energy going, especially back in the day when people didn’t know how bad it was. So here we are... to help give you some information about tobacco use and maybe provide enough medical as well as, personal information to either get you to quit, help someone else quit or reaffirm what you already know.
Let’s delve right into the health effects of smoking. So as you may have heard it literally can harm every single part of your body and is the cause of approximately 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Other important statistics you may want to know.. more than 480,000 deaths/year in the US are caused by cigarette smoking and more than 10 times as many US citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States! Now that is an alarming number.
Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. Also, more women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer. Smoking additionally causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in both men and women. The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the US. And I guess that should be enough statistics to get your blood boiling for now.
So what are the major health issues associated with smoking? lung and oral cancer, COPD, hypertension, blood clots, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, cataracts, macular degeneration, sudden infant death syndrome (for infants whose moms smoked while pregnant), addiction due to the stimulant effect of nicotine, among others. Smoking also increases the risk for coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, for stroke by 2 to 4 times, in men developing lung cancer by 25 times and by 25.7 times in women. Smoking can cause bladder, blood, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, kidney, ureter, laryngeal, liver, oropharyngeal, pancreatic, stomach, tracheal, bronchial and lung cancer.
There are also risks for those who are exposed to secondhand smoke! So just cause you don’t smoke be careful when being around those who do. These risks include heart disease and lung cancer. In children given that their lungs are not as mature as ours the exposure to secondhand smoke may have them at a higher risk for ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and more severe asthma if they already are inflicted.
Now let us move on to how we get our sources of tobacco. There are various forms of tobacco. Most commonly we see people smoking cigarettes. But other forms of tobacco include smoking cigars, hookah and chewing tobacco. Quick side note about chewing tobacco it is a smokeless subtype with a higher incidence of oral cancer!
Let's talk about the new new real quick. Currently, there is a craze revolving e-cigarettes or what is known as, “vaping”. Some of you know this as the JUUL or Miley. This is currently being studied as a potential way to help people stop smoking but also as a way to get people to start! You would be surprised who gets their hands on these products. Let's just say kids in junior high school have been seen vaping in their school cafeteria. WILD... A lot of these vape products contain nicotine and exposes people to second hand aerosols which may contain harmful chemicals. Think about it like this, there are a lot of things that go into the vape juice just like into a cigarette. Tobacco was never good for you but we have a theory which is probably a no brainer. Back in the day, you would pre roll your cigarettes which means that the only thing that was going into them was tobacco. Today, however you have a prepackaged vape juice or cigarettes which contain a number of other ingredients you weren’t intending to inhale.
Before we continue since the time this episode was recorded there has been new information regarding vaping. People are dying from vaping and the number of pulmonary complications has risen drastically. We will have to divulge into this further. But, it should be understood that these products are not being regulated so do yourself a favor or if you know anyone who uses these products please tell them to steer clear.
Back to our scheduled programming, since cigarettes have been studied more, let's talk about them real quick.
Cigarettes contain over 600 ingredients that we know of… and with that number when you smoke cigarettes you create over 7000 chemicals. Furthermore, out of this number (again that we know of thus far) 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Just to give you an example of what is in your tobacco smoke let's look at some of these chemicals. Benzene which is found in gasoline, butane which is in lighter fluid, arsenic well, that’s rat poison, acetone .. yes we said it that’s your nail polish remover, lead that’s in your batteries, toluene that’s used in paint and many others. I think that is enough to make you think and if you’re still curious you can look the other ones up yourselves.
Now we are no geniuses here but we can only imagine what's in that vape juice you all have been smoking. But for starters we know that in the e juice you have a combination of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin this forms the liquid base. To this you add the additives for the flavors and of course, nicotine. These flavors are cinnamaldehyde creating the taste of cinnamon, vanillin for vanilla, benzaldehyde creating the taste of almonds, and diacetyl giving the creamy feel. The thing is the GRAS products they use that are approved by FDA are approved for use as additives in food not for smoking or inhaling. Furthermore, when these products are mixed and smoked they can form other chemicals like formaldehyde. but we don’t know all the effects as of yet however, we do know about popcorn lung aka bronchiolitis obliterans which basically works by scarring your lung tissue making your airways smaller so you become short of breath, experience wheezing and other symptoms similar to a person with COPD. Trust us, we’ve been there so we get it.. But cancer is not cool.
For all our beauty junkies you should already know that tobacco affects your skin. It is so bad in fact that it is known to age you (prematurely, that is). How does this work you might ask? By damaging your collagen and elastin production as well as, causing vasoconstriction so your skin doesn’t get enough blood flow and also won’t get enough oxygen.
Prolonged smoking will increase wrinkles (including crows feet), worsen skin texture, cause sagging skin (not just in your face but your breasts and upper arms as well due to the loss of skin elasticity), can increase your risk of skin cancer specifically squamous cell (which during our SPF talk we discussed how it can appear on your lower lip in smokers), psoriasis because smoking is a risk factor (probably related to the immune system affects as well as inflammation), wound healing is impaired, acne inversa aka hidradenitis suppurativa can occur more commonly (these are boil like nodules that drain pus and usually occur at areas of skin friction), vasculitis most common of which is Buerger’s disease which will affect flow to the distal parts of your body like your hands and your feet leading to pain as well as, tissue damage, telangiectasias (dilated small blood vessels that can cause damage to the capillary walls and you can see them as little purple spots or even as spider veins on your skin) and may give your skin a ruddy appearance due to its skin staining and tar effects (typically an orange, yellow or grey undertone). It is also bad for your teeth even yellowing them.
If you want to get even more into it when you smoke a cigarette you purse your lips right? All those wrinkles we don’t want around our mouth (those vertical lines) or the deep nasolabial folds which require a filler, guess what amplifies that and makes it worse? Cigarettes do! But good news for you skin junkies if you do quit early on most of this can be reversed. Of course the wrinkles that already formed won’t go away but your skin will finally get back that oxygen it’s been needing and your collagen and elastin production will not be diminished any longer.
Why should you quit? That should be a no brainer right? I mean we all know why but it’s very hard to do however you should know this which scares us... even smoking just one cigarette a day over your entire lifetime may cause cancer and premature death. It’s sad that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US. So the earlier you quit the better the benefit.
You know that chronic cough you have from smoking? If you stop, that can completely go away and so will the wheezing or morning productive cough that some people experience from chronic smoking. Quitting smoking after just 1 year decreases your risk for a heart attack drastically and within 2 to 5 years your risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker, 10 years after you quit your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half and within 5 years risks for mouth, throat, esophageal, and bladder cancer drops by half as well.
Thinking about quitting is all nice and stuff but we know it’s not easy. Studies have shown that those who quit cold turkey actually had better long term abstinence than those who took the “weaning” route. But then again our motto is something is better than nothing. So whatever it takes to get you off will make us happy.
What to expect when quitting? Since we all know the side effects is the main issue you will have cravings which is a part of the nicotine withdrawal! These withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anger, anxiety, trouble thinking, feeling hungrier than usual, among others. Some have more severe symptoms like nausea and vomiting however these are temporary and if you make it through the initial withdrawal you will be better off at not picking up a cigarette at a later time. This period is usually worse within the first few days but goes away completely within the first month of quitting.
With that said, we should understand that different methods are used for different people. Some pharmacological options for quitting include a nicotine patch that you can get over the counter or nicotine gum. There is also a lozenge option or prescription options for the patch, inhaler, and even a nasal spray. These are collectively known as nicotine replacement therapy. Other options include prescription medication. For any of these prescription options you must consult your primary care physician as these can interact with other medications or with certain medical conditions and have side effects. These include non-nicotine medications like Bupropion (Zyban) and Varenicline (Chantix). You might have seen or heard about these on television. First they sell us to smoke then they sell us a product to stop smoking!
Bupropion works as an antidepressant but also helps reduce cravings it does lower the seizure threshold so if you have a history of seizures you must check with your physician before taking this. Varenicline works to reduce cravings and block the rewarding effects of smoking. These also come with side effects and side effects of nicotine replacement therapy includes nausea, dizziness, insomnia, headaches and abdominal discomfort. The most effective studied means is a combined multi-modal approach where you do nicotine replacement therapy with medication. This is more effective than either option alone.
Another important part of quitting is counseling. Some people who are not addicted to the actual nicotine or are addicted to both nicotine and the psychological as well as behavioral aspect of smoking will benefit from this alongside the above treatment options. This can help identify triggers and to target them. For example, we all reach for a cigarette when we are bored, when we are stressed, or after we eat. If we target those times and find something else to supplement it with we realize how we don’t need to depend on cigarettes at all. Some people see a therapist or go to group sessions, either way we highly encourage this!
There are a variety of coping mechanisms which brings us to our Secret Tips of the week.
Secret tip #1: Start an exercise routine. We can’t stress this one more, it is your health, your beauty and will help you get rid of the stress, anger or anxiety that burdens you.
Secret tip #2: Keep yourself busy. We find that people go for smoke breaks when they are free or want to find free time. Find some other way to occupy your time or relax your mind. Go for a walk with your dog or read a book.
If you want to quit feel free to DM us for any further advice because we truly got your backs! You can also call this hotline at 1- 800 QUIT NOW or you can search online, a basic google search for online help. Go see your doctor for further assistance as we are all trained in dealing with smoking cessation and will always be there for you in a non judgmental, confidential way helping you get to where you belong. Your health is our number one priority and that’s why we became doctors in the first place.
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