This Article is About
health benefits
devil s advocate
mental wellbeing
health effects of smoking
parkinson s disease
degenerative disorder
central nervous system
risk of obesity
effects of smoking
calorie intake
The Health Benefits Of Smoking
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The Health Benefits Of Smoking

Things are Complex....

I know I’m playing Devil’s advocate, but for the sake of completeness and fairness I’m going to consider the health benefits of smoking. You may throw up your hands in horror and ask the obvious question: ‘surely there can be no health benefits from smoking?’ If only things in life were that simple. Here is a brief, and by no means exhaustive, review of the positive health effects of smoking tobacco.

Benefit 1.

Doctors have shown conclusively that smoking offers a degree of protection against Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system mainly affecting the elderly. Not only does smoking protect against Parkinson’s but the greater the number of cigarettes smoked the greater the protection. This protection is lost once the smoker quits. Why smoking should offer some protection against this disease is uncertain although nicotine is probably implicated due to its influence on the brain’s neurochemistry.

Benefit 2.

Smoking acts as an appetite suppressant and influences the smoker’s metabolic rate enabling them to burn off calories more efficiently. All this adds up to the surprising fact that smoking lowers the risk of obesity. Again, nicotine seems to be the constituent in tobacco which is responsible for controlling and modifying calorie intake. I recently wrote an article on the influence of smoking on weight control. If you would like a more detailed treatment of this topic you should check out my article ‘Smoking and Weight Gain’.

Benefit 3.

Most schizophrenics smoke. It has been estimated that at least 80% of schizophrenics smoke in the US in comparison to the general population incidence of 20%. Could it be that schizophrenics are self medicating with tobacco smoke? Is there any candidate present in tobacco that may help with their mental wellbeing? Again, nicotine appears to be the culprit due to its numerous and often subtle effects on the brain.

Benefit 4.

Smoking may act as an anti-inflammatory agent for certain conditions. The risk of contracting ulcerative colitis, a severe debilitating disorder of the gut, is decreased in smokers. Other inflammatory diseases may also benefit from smoking. Yes, you’ve guessed it nicotine is the chemical present in tobacco that is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Smoking- a Healthy Option?

I've briefly considered four known health benefits of smoking. There are more but I think I’ve made my point. So what does all this mean? Can we conclude that smoking is a healthy life style choice? No, of course not and I’ve belaboured the point I suppose for effect. Although it is true that there are positive health benefits from smoking, these are greatly outweighed by the negative health effects. As an example, no doctor would prescribe smoking as a means for losing weight. To put it plainly, it is healthier to be overweight and a non-smoker than being a smoker and slim.

Researchers are working to isolate compounds in tobacco that may have health benefits. As tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals there is certainly a lot to choose from. Most of these will have no beneficial effects and as is already known, a select group are extremely hazardous to health. It should come as no surprise that nicotine has healing properties. It belongs to the group of compounds known as alkaloids. These plant derived compounds have been exploited for thousands of years by physicians for their health promoting properties. Modern medicine uses these compounds, often in synthetic form, for treating a wide variety of health conditions and disorders. The problem with using nicotine as a therapeutic agent is its highly addictive nature. The challenge for chemists is to modify the nicotine molecule so that it retains its positive medical properties whilst losing its addictiveness. This may prove a difficult scientific challenge which is likely to remain forever elusive.


Street Talk

uggh, I have to pass, the ills out weigh the benefits. good article!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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