Friday, July 16, 2010


Do you have any idea which smoking-related disease is the number one cause of death among smokers? If you're thinking it's lung cancer or COPD/emphysema, you're wrong. While both of these smoking-related diseases do claim a lot of lives, it is heart disease that that holds the top slot in the list of diseases that kill smokers.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today, and the leading cause of death among smokers. And, on a global level, researchers report that there were 1,690,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease among smokers in the year 2000. In contrast, there were approximately 850,000 lung cancer deaths during the same year, and 118,000 COPD deaths from smoking in 2001, worldwide.

Smoking is hard on the heart, but the fact is, tobacco use plays a role in a multitude of diseases that ultimately lead to disability and/or death. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds; 200 of which are known to be poisonous, and upwards of 60 have been identified as carcinogens. Viewed in that light, it's no wonder that the effects of smoking are so widespread and destructive.

Let's take a look at how cigarette smoke affects our bodies, from head to toe. You may be surprised at some of the ways smoking has a negative impact on our health.

  • Smell and staining
Brain and Mental Effects:
  • Stroke
  • Addiction/nicotine withdrawal
  • Altered brain chemistry
  • Anxiety about harm caused by smoking
  • Eyes that sting, water and blink more
  • Macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Less sense of smell
  • Graves Disease
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Wrinkles
  • Premature aging
  • Discoloration and stains
  • Plaque
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
Mouth and Throat:
  • Cancers of the lips, mouth, throat and larynx
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced sense of taste
  • Breath smells of smoke
  • Poor circulation(cold fingers)
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Tar stained fingers
Respiration and Lungs:
  • Lung Cancer
  • COPD (includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
  • Cough and sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Colds and flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Complicates Tuberculosis
  • Harms, blocks and weakens arteries of the heart
  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Stomach and duodenal ulcers
  • Cancer of stomach, pancreas and colon
  • Aortic aneurysm
Kidneys and bladder:
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spine and hip fractures
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
Male reproduction:
  • Sperm: deformity, loss of motility, reduced number
  • Infertility
  • Impotence
Female reproduction:
  • Period pains
  • Earlier menopause
  • Cancer of cervix
  • Infertility and delay in conception
  • Leukemia
Legs and Feet:
  • Gangrene
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Beurger Disease
Immune System:
  • Weakened immune system
The effects of smoking hold additional risks for women. Those who smoke throughout their pregnancies increase the risk of:
  • Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Abruptio placentae
  • Placenta previa
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Premature birth
Risks to the fetus include:
  • Smaller infant(for gestational age)
  • Stillborn infant
  • Birth defects, e.g. congenital limb reduction
  • Increased nicotine receptors in baby's brain
  • Increased likelihood of child smoking as a teenager
  • Possible predisposition to adult anxiety disorders

As long as this list of diseases known to be associated with smoking is, it is incomplete. We don't yet fully understand all of the dangers that cigarette smoke presents, but research continues, bringing us new discoveries seemingly by the day.

One thing is certain: Cigarettes snuff out life at an alarming rate. Statistics tell us that upwards of half of long-term smokers will die a smoking-related death. And globally, that presently translates to nearly 5 million deaths a year. Put another way, someone loses their life to smoking every 8 seconds somewhere in the world.
If you currently smoke, use this information to help you see your smoking habit for what it is - a deadly addiction that you can live without. The tools here at Smoking Cessation are designed to help you learn what nicotine addiction involves and what it takes to quit smoking.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cholestrol & Triglycerides

What Is Cholesterol? What Are Triglycerides?

Cholesterol and triglycerides are two forms of lipid, or fat. Both cholesterol and triglycerides are necessary for life itself. Cholesterol is necessary, among other things, for building cell membranes and for making several essential hormones. Triglycerides, which are chains of high-energy fatty acids, provide much of the energy needed for cells to function.

Where Do Cholesterol and Triglycerides Come From?

There are two sources for these lipids: diet and "endogenous" sources (that is, those manufactured within the body).
Dietary cholesterol and triglycerides mainly come from eating meats and dairy products. These dietary lipids are absorbed through the gut,and then are delivered through the bloodstream to the liver, where they are processed.
One of the main jobs of the liver is to make sure all the tissues of the body receive the cholesterol and triglycerides they need to function. Whenever possible (that is, for about 8 hours after a meal), the liver takes up dietary cholesterol and triglycerides from bloodstream. During times when dietary lipids are not available, the liver produces cholesterol and triglycerides itself.
The liver then packages the cholesterol and triglycerides, along with special proteins, into tiny spheres called lipoproteins. The lipoproteins are released into the circulation, and are delivered to the cells of the body. The cells remove the needed cholesterol and triglycerides from the lipoproteins, as they are needed.

What Are LDL and HDL?

LDL stands for "low density lipoprotein," and HDL for "high density lipoprotein." In the bloodstream, "bad" cholesterol is carried in LDL, and "good" cholesterol is carried in HDL. Most cholesterol in the blood is packaged as LDL. Only a relatively small proportion is from HDL cholesterol. Thus, the total cholesterol level in the blood usually reflects mainly the amount of LDL cholesterol that is present.

Why Are High LDL Cholesterol Levels Bad?

Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol have been strongly associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It appears that when LDL cholesterol levels are too high, the LDL lipoprotein tends to stick the lining of the blood vessels, which helps to stimulate atherosclerosis. So, an elevated LDL cholesterol level is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This is why LDL cholesterol has been called "bad" cholesterol.

Why Is Some Cholesterol Called "Good" Cholesterol?

Much evidence now suggests that higher HDL cholesterol levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and that low HDL cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Thus, HDL cholesterol appears to be "good."
Why is HDL cholesterol protective? It appears that the HDL lipoprotein "scours" the walls of blood vessels and cleans out excess cholesterol. The cholesterol present in HDL is (to a large extent) actually excess cholesterol that has just been removed from cells and blood vessel walls, and is being transported back to the liver for processing.

How Important Are Triglycerides?

While the association between triglycerides and the risk of heart disease has not been as clear as it is for cholesterol, in recent years, several studies have established that people with elevated levels of triglycerides are indeed at increased risk. Also, elevated triglyceride levels are very often strongly associated with other important risk factors, including low levels of HDH cholesterol, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and a tendency toward excessive blood clotting.
Most of these risk factors associated with high triglyceride levels are part of condition called metabolic syndrome, a condition caused by excess weight and lack of exercise in people who are prone to develop insulin resistance. So, treating high triglyceride levels is most often not done in isolation, but requires treating the constellation of risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.

What Can Cause High Cholesterol?

Elevated cholesterol levels can be caused by several factors, including heredity, poor diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, age, and gender (premenopausal women have lower cholesterol levels than men). Several medical conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism (low thyroid,) liver disease, AND chronic renal (kidney) failure, can also increase cholesterol levels. Drugs, such as steroids and progesterone, can do the same. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunscreens - All that you wanted to know

Sunscreen - All what you wanted to know
Sunscreen is a substance that helps protect the skin from the sun's harmful rays. Sunscreens reflect, absorb, and scatter both ultraviolet A and B radiation to provide protection against ultraviolet A and B radiation. Sunscreen is available in lotion, creams, makeup, gels, and sprays. Using lotions, creams, or gels that contain sunscreens can help protect the skin from premature aging and damage that may lead to skin cancer.

Decoding Sunscreen Labels
Sun Protection Factor and the number next to it refer to the degree to which a sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburn. The higher the number, the more sunburn protection the sunscreen can provide. You should use a minimum of SPF 15 and reapply often

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause sunburn, wrinkling, premature aging, and skin cancer and may also interfere with the body's immune system. Look for "broad spectrum" sunscreens that protect from the two types of UV rays.

Ultraviolet A is longer wavelength UV radiation that can penetrate and damage the deeper layers of skin even if the skin feels cool and shows no signs of burning.

Ultraviolet B is the shorter wavelength UV radiation associated with sunburn and other skin damage.

Water Resistant
These sunscreens stay on the skin longer even if they get wet from pool water, ocean water or sweat. But water resistant doesn't mean waterproof. Sunscreens with this label still need to be reapplied. Check the label for reapplication times.

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