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Beyond Lung Cancer: Smoking And Chronic Pain



Smoking has been on the decline for decades. However, there are still a good number of smokers out there--despite all the health warnings!  I suppose the biggest fear in this group is the fear that they might develop lung cancer.  And that certainly is a possibility.

What they might not consider is that smoking cessation has many other benefits. For one thing, the risk of heart attack, stroke and other vascular diseases is reduced greatly when one decides to kick the habit. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is another health issue that can improve or be completely prevented if a smoker decides to quit. Women of childbearing age who smoke can experience infertility issues-; this is less of an issue if a woman does not smoke.  If a woman is pregnant, the baby is less likely to experience health issues if the mother is not a smoker. Expectant mothers who stop smoking during the pregnancy are less likely to have a baby with low birthweight.

Last, but not least--did you know that smoking can exacerbate chronic pain? Smoking affects the heart and lungs--which in turn impairs blood circulation.  This results in impaired oxygen delivery to the body--slowing healing, reducing the elasticity of skin, and increased blood pressure. Muscles and joints are impacted by the consequences of this due to reduced oxygen, reduced blood supply, and reduced quality of blood supply to the tissues.  A 2014 study at Northwestern University tracked 160 individuals with new onset back pain. In this first of a kind study,  researchers discovered that smoking impairs a brain circuit that is associated with chronic pain.  The study also revealed that smokers were THREE TIMES more likely to develop low back pain than those who do not smoke!

Sources:Wikimedia; CDC; VeryWell.com


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