According to the American Cancer Society, today, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. In 2006, an estimated 162,460 deaths resulted from lung cancer, and of those deaths, an estimated 79,560 of those were women. At first glance, the numbers might not seem so alarming., but what is alarming is the fact that “between 1960 and 1990, deaths from lung cancer among women increased by more than 400%” (www.lungcancer.org). Do you need a moment to digest those statistics? I know I did.
In addition, to being the leading cause of cancer-related death for women, the National Cancer Institutes reports that the expected 5-year survival rate for all patients in whom lung cancer is diagnosed is 15.5 percent compared to 64.8 percent for colon, 89 percent for breast and 99.9 percent for prostate cancer. Further, about 6 out of 10 people with lung cancer die within 1 year of being diagnosed with the disease (Lungusa).
After reading the data, I did some research to uncover the cause of such high incidences of lung cancer overall, and particularly, in women. Studies show that while lung cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, including asbestos and environmental pollution, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, with an estimated 90 percent of lung cancer cases caused by smoking. 5 What that means, is that 90 percent of lung cancer cases are preventable; and in 2006, of the 79,560 women that died, 71,685 of those deaths were senseless.
To make the numbers understandable from a layman’s point of view, what they correlate to is this: more people have died from smoking in one year than there were American military casualties in Iraq since the war started in 2003, and more than were murdered in the United States in 2005.
Hence, it begs to be considered that if lung cancer is preventable, why do over 1.1 billion people, over 1/6 of the world’s total population choose to smoke and ingest harmful tobacco products? This includes 33% of the African population; 57% of the people in the United States; 72% of Europeans; 48% of Southeast Asians, 39% of Eastern Mediterraneans; and 68% of people in Western Pacific nations (World Heath Organization, 2000 estimates).
The answer in short is addiction.
With this in mind, I struck out to learn more about the history of the cigarette. I was in for quite an education. Besides providing you with a history of the cigarette, this article will also educate you on what lung cancer does to your body, steps you can take to prevent it, methods of screening, and resources. Hopefully, what you learn in the following pages will enable you to make a decision that could save a life.
History of the Cigarette
The primary ingredient in a cigarette is tobacco. Tobacco in cigarettes is usually a blend of several types of the tobacco leaf, which have the effect of euphoria on the nervous system. Tar, a by-product of the cigarette, is produced when the cigarette is lit. Nicotine is also part of the make up of the tobacco leaf. When a cigarette is lit and the smoke inhaled, nicotine moves into the blood vessels of the mucous membranes, skin and lungs, and then directly to your brain [within seconds], increasing adrenaline production, stimulating neurons in the brain that cause “good” feelings, which encourage a person to want to repeat the action that caused that feeling (addiction), further stimulating the production and release of endorphins, which cause feelings of euphoria. (howstuffworks.com).
Man has been using the tobacco product for thousands of years. Native Americans smoked prior to the arrival of European explores; and the practice is even depicted in early Mayan art dating back to 1,500 years ago, when tobacco was also used as a medicinal antidote. In the 16th century, smoking was common mostly among sailors. The cigar later became popular in England in the 1820s. The cigarette soon appeared in Spain. During World War I, tobacco products were included in military rations. After the war, manufacturers began advertising cigarette smoking as glamorous, and the rest, as they say is history (Wikipedia).
When manufacturers recognized the marketability of the cigarette, they became interested in learning how to get more people to smoke. Advertising was one way. The other way was to include additives that made cigarette smoking less harsh, more tasty…and more addictive. Today, there are over 599 known additives in cigarettes that have been approved by the United States (U.S.) Government. What most people don’t know is that while some of these additives are safe and can be found in everyday foods, others are extremely dangerous when ingested and when burned, these additives produce chemical compounds that are toxic.
Some of the additives included in cigarettes are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, formaldehyde and hydrazine, among others. These harsh chemicals have no natural place in a human body, and even to a layman, it is obvious that these products would be harmful when ingested. Carbon monoxide, for example, a poisonous gas found in car exhaust smoke, when inhaled, can cause fatigue, nausea, disorientation and chest pains. Hydrogen cyanide is used to make fibers, plastics, dyes, pesticides and under the name of Zyklon B, was used as a genocidal agent in World War I. Ammonia is a household cleaner which causes skin, eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. Formaldehyde is used to manufacture building materials and to preserve dead bodies. It causes watery eyes, burning of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, wheezing and skin irritation. Together with the other additives in a cigarette, each time a smoker lights up and inhales, they are inhaling a “cocktail” of carcinogens, creating a multitude of illnesses in their bodies and speeding up death. At the same time, because the physiological and psychological rewards are so immediate, most smokers, after just one cigarette, are on their way to addiction. Nowadays, cigarettes can be found pretty much everywhere, at neighborhood grocery stores, gas stations, street vendors and even on-line.
Seizing on the lucrative business of addiction, cigarette manufacturers produce approximately 5.5 trillion cigarettes globally each year. China, the United States, Russia, and Japan-the four largest producers-manufacture just over half of the world’s supply. In 2004, China produced 1.79 trillion cigarettes, 32 percent of the global total. The United States produced 499 billion, 9 percent of the total. ([http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4320])
There are billions of dollars spent every year to target current smokers and recruit new ones. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), major manufacturers like China National Tobacco Company (China), Altria Group, Inc., (previously Phillip Morris Companies) (USA), British American Tobacco PLC (UK), Japan Tobacco (Japan), R J. Reynolds Tobacco (USA), Reemtsman (Germany), Altadis (France and Spain), among others, spend a lot of money to market tobacco. The United States alone spends over $10 billion dollars. This includes promotional funds to retailers to expedite the sales.
This marketing is targeted at adults and youth alike, particularly preying on the naiveté’, rebelliousness, experimentive nature of young adults. Cigarette brands like Virginia Slims and Capri’s designs appeal to young women, wanting to look more mature, feminine or sexy; and the Joe Camel and the Marlboro man entice young boys who want to look cool, tough and grown up. Cigarette manufacturers went so far as to give cigarettes names that would appeal to younger people. After public outcry from advocacy groups, this year, J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., in particular, agreed to stop using candy, fruit and alcohol names for flavored cigarettes that might appeal to children, The company was using names such as Twista Lime”, “Warm Winter Toffee” and “Winter MochaMint.
In the 21st century, the marketing efforts to target youth has evidently stepped up, showing the tenacity of the tobacco manufacturers in retaining what could be their most loyal customers, in spite of over 40 years of opposition from both public and private segments. In the late 1960’s, attempts to curb adolescent exposure to cigarette advertising began with the banning of television and radio ads. [However]…the proportion of high school students who smoked rose from 27.5 percent in 1991 to a peak of 36.4 percent in 1997 before drifting back to 28.0 percent in 2000). This increase…was among the factors that prompted a reexamination of regulatory policy, culminating in the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), signed by tobacco manufacturers and forty-six states’ attorneys general, prohibits tobacco manufacturers from taking “any action, directly or indirectly, to target Youth within any Settling State in the advertising, promotion or marketing of Tobacco Products.” As a blanket youth-targeting ban, this provision applies to all types of advertising, including transit ads, billboards, and magazines (Healthaffairs). Today, in most countries, there are age limit restrictions on the purchase of cigarettes by youth.
As awareness of the health-related disadvantages of smoking and other tobacco products came to the forefront of public consciousness, the public has seen more airing of advertisements, public service announcements, smoking education awareness campaigns, lobbying for smoke free movies and the passing of no-smoking laws in certain building, states and even countries. In countries across the world, like Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Cuba, France, India, Lithuania, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Turkey, smoking is banned in certain public places or workplaces. As always, the cigarette manufacturers are trying to find ways to use even the advertising for non-smoking to their advantage, with large cigarette vendors hiring public relations firms to help them create soft marketing, “non-smoking” ads that would draw in more smokers.
In addition, in order to counter the loss in profits from the bans against smoking and public outcry in the 1980’s in the United States and other countries, more aggressive marketing is done on the continents of Asia and Africa, where cigarettes are marketed in television, radio and print advertising, at schools, sports and music events, and even more subtly, in the form of sponsorship at charitable events. Still, there are thousands of organizations working to ban smoking, educate youth and adults about smoking and health related issues, like lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease among other diseases.
What Lung Cancer Does To Your Body
While all the advertising inundates the public with images of how “sexy” smoking is supposed to be, what they don’t show is the ugly side of smoking, how it stains, erodes and damages your teeth, taste buds, throat, esophagus, lungs and inevitably, threatens your life. Granted, not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer and dies; however, it is proven that cigarettes do contribute to lung cancer.
Lung cancer occurs when cells start to grow uncontrollably in a random fashion, causing tumors in the bronchial tubes, mucous glands, and near the air sacs and surface of the lungs. These tumors grow rapidly into larger tumors and can eventually spread throughout the body and into the chest, bones, spine or other organs. The more rampant the cancer in a body, the higher chance one has of multiple tumors, organ failure; and, a lesser chance for survival.
Lung Cancer Prevention/Detection/Screening/Treatment
One can take several steps to prevent the occurrence of lung cancer. First, if you are a non-smoker, promise yourself that you will never pick up a cigarette. Secondly, avoid inhaling second-hand smoke. Also, since lung cancer can also be caused by toxins in the environment, like radon gas and asbestos, it is important to be aware of their existence, and to avoid exposure.
For people who have a history of lung cancer in their families, lung cancer can be detected by screening via x-rays, CT scans, biopsies, testing of coughed up mucus, and blood tests. Lung cancer, in its early stages has no noticeable symptoms; however, as it progresses, lumps, coughing, blood-stained phlegm, breathlessness, chest pain, recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis, weight loss and fatigue can occur.
According to lungcancer.org, there is currently no approved screening test for lung cancer that has been proven to improve survival or detect localized disease. However, there are many studies under way to find an appropriate screening tool. If detected early, lung cancer can be treated, depending on the type and extent of the cancer. In instances where the cancer is localized in the lung, surgery can remove the tumors. When the cancer has spread beyond the chest, chemotherapy and radiation are used as treatment. Some patients can even elect to have lung transplants, where the diseased lung is replaced by a healthy one.
For those trying to quit, the good news is that there are a myriad of resources, nationally and internationally, to help people quit. International agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have extensive data and resources on their websites to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. In 1998, WHO established the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), which is dedicated to framing global tobacco policy and focusing international resources on the global tobacco epidemic.
The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and lungcancer.org are among the many organizations that provide information, education and resources to help smokers quit. There are telephone, on-line, group and one-on-one support groups, government and community funded that provide counseling. Some people use and therapy, various medications, including the patch, hypnosis and nicotine pills to assist them in quitting.
One of the most important factors in quitting and sticking to it is having a strong support system. If you are trying to quit or help someone to quit, keep in mind that cigarette smoking is extremely addictive and that people trying to quit can experience anxiety, depression and irritability, as they crave the nicotine their body has become accustomed to ingesting. Because of how addictive nicotine is, some people give up quitting or experience relapses in smoking after only a short time. Thus, it is very important to get lots of support from family and friends, since they can provide reminders of the benefits to quitting.
Besides the risk of getting lung cancer, there are a multitude other health related illnesses that can develop due to smoking, including heart attack and stroke, blood pressure, respiratory diseases, cancer in other parts of the body and cardiovascular diseases. People who smoke also put others around them at risk. Women who smoke give birth to babies with lower birth rates, children of parents who smoke can develop respiratory illnesses and people who inhale second-hand smoke have a higher risk of developing lung cancer or other smoking-related disease. (National Cancer Institute).
Then, there is the economic downside to smoking. According to http://www.cancer.org, tobacco creates “…hugely increased healthcare costs…diversion of agricultural land that could grow food, the costs of fires and damage to buildings caused by careless smokers, the resulting increase in insurance premiums, employee absenteeism, decrease in worker productivity…widespread environmental costs due to large-scale deforestation…pollution, and the millions of discarded butts and cigarette packaging that litter streets and waterways (www.cancer.org).”
In the USA, between 1997 and 2001, tobacco smoking resulted in $92 billion of annual productivity losses; worldwide, smoking accounted for 10% of fire deaths, the total [number of people] killed by fires caused by smoking [was] 300,000 and the total cost of fires caused by smoking was $27 billion. In 2003, cigarette litter accounted for 34% of the trash collected along the world’s coasts; every year, children start 1,000,000 fires using lighters, and as of 2005, the economic costs to the economy healthcare included was upwards of $300 billion dollars (www.cancer.org).
Benefits of Not Smoking
On the upside, there are a myriad of benefits to quitting smoking. You can prevent health related illnesses like emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer by never smoking or quitting smoking as soon as possible. Quitting as soon as possible can improve the quality and longevity of your life. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are almost instant health improvements when a person quits smoking. “Within just a few days of quitting, a person’s sense of taste and smell return, and breathing becomes easier; blood pressure, which becomes elevated while smoking, begins to return to normal. Research has shown that people who stop smoking before the age of 35 reduce their risk of developing a tobacco-related disease by 90%, but older smokers can also benefit greatly from quitting. Even smokers who quit after being diagnosed with a smoking-related illness reduce their risk of medical complications and of dying from a tobacco-related disease”.
The key thing that I want to leave with you is this. Your life is in your hands – literally. You are in control. Smoking, as addictive as it may be, is a choice. Every time a smoker lights up a cigarette and inhales, that individual is making a conscious decision to harm his/her body; and every time the smoker exhales the cigarette smoke, he/she is harming others and the environment.
Source by Maimah Karmo