How smoking is damaging your health

Smoking can harm your body in many ways and the NHS found that around 79,000 deaths were attributed to smoking in 2015. It is damaging to nearly every organ in your body and can cause many diseases including cancer and COPD. Quitting smoking can extend your lifespan and reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases, it affects your body in the following way:

Increases the risk of cancer
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds and of these more than 70 are known to cause cancer. Smoking causes cancer by damaging our DNA and the key gene that protects us from the disease. Cancer Research UK state that smoking accounts for more than 1 in 4 UK cancer deaths and nearly a fifth of all cancer cases. Smoking increases the risk of developing the following cancers: Mouth & Upper Throat, Larynx, Oesophagus, Lung, Liver, Pancreas, Stomach, Kidney, Bowel, Ovaries, Bladder, Cervix and Leukaemia.

Damages your lungs
Regularly breathing in cigarette smoke harms your airways and can make it harder to get air in and out of your lungs, this can lead to a development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a chronic inflammatory condition in the lungs that causes the respiratory passages to be swollen and irritated, increases the mucus production and damages the lungs.

Contributes to heart disease
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, in fact The British Heart Foundation found smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked. Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as it damages the line of your arteries, the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the production of adrenaline and in turn makes your heart beat faster, and your blood is more likely to clot.

Causes fertility problems
Smoking can affect fertility in both men and women, men who smoke are likely to have fewer sperm and women can take longer to get pregnant. Fertility can also be affected by second-hand smoke as you are still exposed to the same chemicals. The NHS disclose that smoking whilst you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and illness, and it increases the risk of cot death by at least 25%. 

Affects workplace productivity
Smoking not only affects your body but your mind too. Research has shown those who smoke will have poorer work performance and productivity. Understandably as regular smokers will take smoking breaks throughout the working day and the British Heart Foundation have found that these breaks cost your workplace around £26 per smoker in lost time that could have been used productively. Smokers will have longer and more frequent breaks than other employees, meaning they will do less work. The average smoker will also take 0.7 more sick days per year than their non-smoking colleagues according to the British Heart Foundation!

Makes getting fit harder
Smoking can harm your ability to exercise and be physically fit as it hurts your lung capacity, increases your resting heart rate, makes your blood sticky and narrows your arteries. If you are planning on quitting smoking then exercise can be used as a tool to help you kick the habit as it reduces cravings, decreases stress and helps you to manage withdrawal symptoms.

If you are looking to exercise more frequently to help you stop smoking, My Gym Discounts provides discounts on gym memberships. It is a voucher based or discount code scheme which offers employees the opportunity to benefit from discounted gym memberships at hundreds of gyms, leisure centres, health clubs and class studios across the UK and Ireland. For more information please visit the website or contact the team on [email protected].