Smoking tobacco is widely recognised as unhealthy. The most prevalent method of consuming tobacco is through cigarette smoking. Cigarettes contain numerous harmful substances, including nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, and various toxic chemicals. When a person inhales these substances into the lungs, it can cause significant damage to the respiratory system and have adverse effects on overall health. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for the majority of cases worldwide. The carcinogens present in cigarette smoke can lead to the development of malignant tumors in the lungs. In this article, we will explain the link between smoking and lung cancer, and the way in which it contributes to lung cancer.
What is the link between smoking and lung cancer?
There is extensive scientific research and documentation regarding the correlation between smoking and lung cancer. Smoking tobacco, whether through cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, is the primary cause of lung cancer. The harmful chemicals present in tobacco smoke contain carcinogens that can damage the cells lining the lungs. When a person inhales this smoke, these carcinogens enter the lungs and initiate a series of changes in the lung tissue. Over time, repeated exposure to tobacco smoke causes genetic mutations in the cells of the lungs, leading to the uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells. These cells can eventually form a tumor and develop into lung cancer.
It is difficult to tell whether smokers know that they will get lung cancer. Not only active smoking but also exposure to secondhand smoke (inhalation of smoke from others’ cigarettes) can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer is directly related to the duration and intensity of smoking, meaning that long-term heavy smokers have a higher risk compared to occasional or light smokers.
It’s worth mentioning that there is a link between smoking and other types of cancer as well. These include cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and cervix, among others. Additionally, smoking is a major risk factor for several respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses.
In what way smoking leads to the development of lung cancer?
Smoking damages healthy cells causing them to multiply profusely to induce lung cancer. As smoke reaches the lungs directly, the cancer-causing toxic particles affect them the most. Also affected are the mouth and oesophagus.
A study published on the website of the National Library of Medicine has shown that smoke from a cigarette contains toxic particles like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, N-nitrosamines, aromatic amines, 1,3-butadiene, benzene, aldehydes, and ethylene oxide which are known to cause lung cancer. These toxic particles damage the inner lining of the lungs and change the genetic structure of the lung cells. Initially, the natural immune system may be able to repair the damage. However, if repair mechanisms fail, the damaged cells behave abnormally and quickly multiply. The natural immune system cannot keep up with the growth and the damaged abnormal cells accumulate and spread causing lung cancer.
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