Carl Bourhenne's Fitness and Long Life Manual
Youthful and Attractive
The relationship between smoking and longevity is so strong that,
especially for men in their sixties, smoking is the single most accurate predictor of remaining
The relationship between smoking and longevity is so strong that, especially for men in their sixties, smoking is the single most accurate predictor of remaining life expectancy.
On the average, cigarette smokers die ten years sooner than otherwise comparable non- smokers. In addition to causing lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and hypertension, cigarette smoking is also a major risk factor for cerebrovascular disease, causing strokes and reducing mental functioning.
It can be said that all smokers, regardless of age, have a 70% greater probability of experiencing coronary heart disease. Although the damage from smoking cigarettes can never be reversed, stopping lessens the probability of heart disease.
The body's first reaction to smoking may include sweating, nausea, and even vomiting; but a tolerance to the effects of nicotine is soon developed, and nicotine is strongly physically addictive. Unfortunately, the detrimental effects of nicotine remain a danger.
Smoking should be eliminated to avoid or control hypertension. Hypertension can cause damage to all of the body organs, but especially the brain, heart, and kidneys.
Most lung cancers are caused by smoking, and the prognosis for lung cancer is poor. The major cause of the increase in cancer deaths has been the increase of lung cancer. If you stop smoking, your risk of lung cancer is reduced. The risk of developing lung cancer is 10 times as great in an elderly moderate smoker, as that of a non-smoker. Persons at high risk for strokes include smokers.
Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema (collectively known as chronic obstructive lung disease) are usually due to smoking. No therapy can reverse the lung destruction of emphysema. Emphysema produces holes in the lung. People with emphysema may be constantly struggling to breathe.
Extreme emphysema is virtually always seen in later years, in long-term heavy smokers. Esophageal carcinoma (Cancer of the esophagus) has been related to smoking, and the prognosis is grave.
Nicotine is a stimulant which causes increases in the blood pressure, heart rate, and the release of epinephrine. Withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, sweating, insomnia, nervousness, and drowsiness.
Contrary to popular belief, smoking does not relieve stress. Stress causes an elevation of the acid content in the urine, which in turn flushes away more nicotine than normal urine does. The nicotine addiction then demands a replenishment of the lost nicotine; but the stress level itself remains unaffected. The same tests showed that bicarbonates reduced smoking under stress.
According to the American Cancer Society, a person who smokes two packs of cigarettes per day may expect to live about 12 years less than someone who has never smoked.
While those who stop smoking may experience some relief from the effects of emphysema and bronchitis, air sacs destroyed by emphysema can not be recovered, and blocked bronchial airways may never be re-opened.
Substances known as "anaphrodisiacs" are those substances which lessen sexual desire. The most widely used, but least recognized anaphrodisiac is nicotine. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to reduce sexual motivation and performance. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, reducing the body's vasocongestive response to sexual stimulation. Smoking also reduces the levels of testosterone in the blood, further lessening sexual performance.
Smoking is also hazardous to the developing fetus during pregnancy. Smoking cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, and so may slow the growth of the fetus. Thus, babies of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy often weigh less than those of non-smoking mothers.
Research shows that smoking is associated with skin wrinkling, probably because nicotine from cigarettes contracts the small blood vessels in the skin, inhibiting circulation.
The Public Health Service's 1975 report, "The Health Consequences of Smoking", states, "Cigarette smoking remains the largest single unnecessary and preventable cause of illness and preventable death". As long ago as 1979 the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Surgeon General jointly released a huge report of 1,200 pages entitled Report on Smoking and Health which studied over 30,000 separate, scientific studies. The result was "overwhelming proof" that cigarette smoking causes disease. In it the HEW Secretary said, "People who smoke are committing slow-motion suicide.".
Way back in 1979 the Surgeon General's report stated that cigarette smoking is responsible for 346,000 deaths each year! Although lung cancer was a relatively rare disease in the year 1900, by 1977 it alone became the killer of 78,000 Americans. Smoking is also responsible for bronchitis, emphysema, cancers of the kidney, pancreas, and bladder; and heart disease.
Arguments have been made in defense of smoking, saying that we tolerate smog, which is also harmful. The fact is that smoke from a typical non-filter cigarette contains about 5 billion particles per milliliter - 50,000 times that of an equal volume of polluted city air.
The strong trend away from non-filter cigarettes toward filtered and low nicotine-low tar cigarettes has not significantly helped. The incidence of lung cancer does drop somewhat, but still remains high. Also, carbon monoxide, along with nicotine, contributes to heart disease; and filtered and low tar-low nicotine cigarettes do not automatically have a low carbon monoxide yield.
It is the tarry substance of cigarette smoke that causes lung cancer. When it is applied to the skin, lungs, and other tissues of rats, mice, and hamsters its compounds produce cancer in the animals. Experiments with dogs showed that when an incision in the trachea of dogs was made in such a way that they were made to smoke seven cigarettes per day for over two years, pre-cancerous changes in the lung tissues developed.
There are other forms of cancer that are directly linked to smoking. Death resulting from cancer of the mouth, larynx, trachea, and esophagus are much higher for smokers than for non-smokers. These types of cancer attack pipe and cigar smokers as readily as cigarette smokers. Leukoplakia, an early form of cancer, develops on the lips, tongue, and mucous membranes of cigar and pipe smokers. As smoking became more widely accepted, cancers of the kidney and pancreas also increased.
Toxic materials derived from smoking are eliminated through the urine. As a result, smokers of a pack of cigarettes per day are twice as likely to die of bladder cancer as are non-smokers.
The difference in heart attacks between smokers and non-smokers is dramatic. Pack-a-day or more cigarette smokers have twice as many heart attacks as non-smokers; and three times as often, the heart attack results in sudden death. Incidences of heart disease increases in direct proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the number of years the person has been smoking.
How Does Cigarette Smoke Cause Heart Attacks?
Two of the components of cigarette smoke are carbon monoxide, and nicotine. Carbon monoxide is well known as a colorless, odorless, and very poisonous gas that combines with the hemoglobin in red blood cells, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches body cells.
Nicotine is one of the toxic substances. It constricts coronary blood vessels and interferes with the nerve signals that regulate the heartbeat. The result is reduced oxygen supply to the heart muscle. This is only one of the problems that nicotine causes. It is suspected of increasing the probability of thrombosis - the formation of blood clots - in the coronary blood vessels, causing heart attack. Other types of strain on the heart caused by nicotine are deteriorated lung functioning, and high blood pressure.
The initial effect of nicotine is a mild stimulation - a lift - but the after effect is a mild depression which stimulates the need for the next cigarette; and so on in a circle.
A 1978 report from the Food and Drug Administration resulted in the labeling of birth control pills with the warning: "Women who use oral contraceptives should not smoke". The study states that the risk increases with age, and with smoking 15 or more cigarettes per day.
One study showed that women who smoked and used the pill are 22 times more likely to suffer certain kinds of stroke than women who did neither. The 1979 Surgeon General's Report showed that women who smoke multiply by double the dangers of stillbirths and spontaneous abortions; and they have babies that are, on the average, a half pound lighter. The report also stated that one out of five babies who died could have been saved if the mothers had not been a smokers. This same report shows that, after quitting smoking, one's life expectancy improves as the time off of cigarettes increases so that 15 years after quitting, the life expectancy of the ex-smoker is almost the same as that of a non-smoker. This reflects the reductions in the risk of lung cancer and heart attack.
There are many methods of stopping smoking; but, since nicotine is a strong physical addiction, we strongly that anyone wishing to stop smoking get professional help. Some forms of help are very inexpensive, some are low-cost, and some even no-cost. There are such techniques as aversion conditioning, group therapy, emotional role playing, and "cold turkey". There are such groups as the Seventh Day Adventists, who invite anyone who wishes to stop smoking to attend (I stopped a 5 (five) pack per day habit in this program after two years of serious unsuccessful attempts); and religion is not a factor in this program. The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, and The American Lung Association might develop referral services, clinics or programs. Some hospitals have live-in programs. In considering the cost, remember the several hundred dollars per year the smoker spends on cigarettes.
It is usually only after quitting smoking that the smoker comes to realize the dreadful impact that the smoker has on non-smokers. The acute disturbance of the smoke itself is almost equaled by the ever present tar and nicotine odor and smudge which pervade the path and quarters of the cigarette smoker.
If you're trying to stop smoking: In most cases quitting smoking can best be done with help, such as was mentioned above.
Some brief tips address the real fact that nicotine is a strong physical addiction, as well as mental and emotional:
If the ex-smoker lives long enough, after about fifteen years, the ex-smoker has about the same life expectancy of a non-smoker of the same age, except for the permanent lung damage which may bring on emphysema.
More than 50% of all automobile deaths in the United States, and a large number of the injuries involve excessive drinking. Alcohol use is also very often associated with physical illness, mental illness, family conflicts, other social problems, poverty, and crime.
Alcohol is a major factor in the causation of cirrhosis of the liver, which is responsible for over half of all deaths between the ages of 45 and 65. Also, alcohol has been shown to injure the brain and heart.
What is this thing called "alcohol"? What is this most used and abused drug in all of its various popular forms and potencies? Methods of making alcoholic beverages have been known even before recorded history.
There are several classifications of alcoholic beverages:
Beer and Ale contain from 3 to 6 1/2 percent alcohol, and are made from various cereals by brewing.
Table Wines have a natural alcohol content of from 9 to 12 percent alcohol, and are made by fermenting the juice of grapes or other fruits. Other Wines such as Ports, Sherries, and Muscatels usually contain 18 to 22 percent alcohol, by the addition of distilled alcohol. Hard Liquors - whiskey (bourbon, scotch, etc.), gin, rum, and brandy - contain from 35 to 50 percent alcohol. They are derived by distilling fermented or brewed products to yield these high alcohol liquids.
"Proof" on alcoholic beverages indicates the alcohol concentration of a beverage. To convert proof to percent, just divide the proof number in half. For example, 100 proof whiskey is 50 percent alcohol; 80 proof rum is 40 percent alcohol, and so on. Thus, one ounce of 100 proof whiskey contains 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol, etc.
The effect of alcohol on you will be different from other people, in varying degrees.
How a drinking episode affects you will depend on several factors:
Alcohol is carried by the bloodstream to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), and has both physical and psychological effects. It is an anesthetic, a tranquilizer, and a depressant. Because as a tranquilizer it reduces inhibitions - especially in social settings where its effects include increased conversation and activity - it sometimes seems to be a stimulant. The way alcohol induces mood changes though, is to depress the part of the brain involved in sending out instructions to the body. The resulting impairment of motor coordination is the most measurable of the effects of alcohol.
Even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase the heart rate, cause confusion and hallucinations, increase stomach acid and saliva, is a mild diuretic, and dilates blood vessels near the skin giving an illusion of feeling warmer.
Intoxication on a daily basis results in a state of physical dependence and higher tolerance for alcohol. Subsequently, alcohol deprivation results in withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms is a good measure of the degree of addiction. Symptoms of withdrawal include seizures, and hallucinations or delirium tremens (DT's).
The "hangover" syndrome is actually a state of mild withdrawal whose severity reflects how much and how long the person drank as well as the person's condition - mentally and physically. Some of the symptoms of a hangover are headache, nausea and vomiting, weakness, nervousness, thought control, and fast heartbeat. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no cure for a hangover.
Sadly, none of those odd concoctions, coffee, or vitamins can cure a hangover; but some relief can come from rest, solid food, aspirin, and liquids. Most hangovers have a maximum duration of about 36 hours, and many last only a few hours or less.
Long term heavy drinking results in a high rate of serious illness, both psychological and physical. Mental illness, temporary and permanent can result, as well as stomach and gastrointestinal disorders.
Nutritional disorders are a result of the fact that alcohol is high in calorie, but has no vitamins or essential amino acids, and depresses the appetite. Too much alcohol causes excessive fat deposits and liver tissue damage, resulting in the life-threatening disease known as cirrhosis of the liver.
Other serious effects from excessive alcohol use are various cancers. Especially if the person smokes, cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus have been related to heavy drinking. Heavy drinkers have been shown to have markedly shorter life spans.
From the viewpoint of intoxication, alcohol requires much more intake by volume than most other psychoactive drugs. Alcohol intoxication occurs after ingestion of between 2 and 4 ounces - 300 times more than barbiturates, and almost a million times more than LSD. The biggest reason for this is that most of the alcohol ingested does not reach the brain. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, partly through the lining of the stomach and partly through the small intestine. Then, in the blood, 80 to 90 percent of the alcohol is broken down in the liver and other tissues, with the rest going to the brain.
This last amount, which goes to the brain, is called the "blood alcohol level", and is what determines how much the person's behavior will be affected. If the intake of alcohol is faster than the body can break down and eliminate, the excess alcohol enters the blood stream, raising the "blood alcohol level", and reaches the brain, causing intoxication.
While individuals may vary, most people will notice little or no effect with a concentration of up to .02 percent alcohol in the blood. This amounts to 2 parts of alcohol per 10,000 parts of blood. When the level rises to .03 to .05 percent alcohol, some sensations will ordinarily be noticed, such as a sense of well-being, light-headedness, some relaxation, and some release of personal inhibitions. A person may say or do things they might not ordinarily say or do.
By 0.1 percent blood alcohol concentration the drinker experiences major depression of sensory and motor functions. The drinker will experience difficulty in speaking, and may fumble objects and stagger slightly. At 0.2 percent blood alcohol concentration the drinker will be incapacitated, both mentally and physically. At 0.3 percent the drinker is in a stupor, and at .4 percent, a coma. If the blood alcohol level rises to a level of 0.6 or 0.7 percent, suffocation and death would occur. This is rare, however, because the drinker usually loses consciousness before then, or the stomach becomes irritated and the drinker vomits.
The four major factors to consider in controlling the absorption of alcohol are:
People with certain diseases, such as epilepsy and diabetes should not drink at all. Also, recent illness, and often extreme fatigue may cause an unusual sensitivity to alcohol.
Women who are pregnant should not drink. Even in moderation, drinking can have extremely harmful effects on the unborn baby. "Fetal alcohol syndrome" is a pattern of defects known to be caused by women who are chronic alcoholics. The defects include stunted growth, mental retardation, and malformed faces, hearts, arms, and legs.
Another serious danger regarding alcohol is the interaction of alcohol with drugs. Any two drugs taken together result in an effect more than the sum of the two drugs, and alcohol is a drug. This includes drinking while using medications.
In addition to the physical effects of alcohol on people, there are psychological effects. The extent of the effects of a given amount of alcohol depends primarily on the character and personality of the drinker as they interact with both the alcohol and the setting. The psychological effects include both mental impairment, and emotional impairment. The mental impairment which results affects such abilities as motor tasks, reaction time, perception, and the cognitive processes of thinking, reasoning, learning, remembering, and problem solving. The emotional impairment from alcohol consumption includes euphoria, fear, anxiety, tension, and hostility.
With all of the detrimental effects from excessive alcohol consumption, and all of the functional effects of even moderate drinking, more than 100 million Americans above the age of 15 use alcoholic beverages. This includes eight out of ten men, and six out of ten women. The vast majority of those who drink do so without noticeable damage or danger to themselves or others except when they drive after drinking. It is the drinking of alcoholic beverages by about 18 million people who cause injury to others, mostly by driving after drinking. About two-thirds of those are considered alcoholics.
Repeated incidences of intoxication which cause problems to oneself or others indicates a drinking problem. People displaying this behavior are called " problem drinkers". Problem drinkers with a physical dependency on alcohol, or who cannot stop drinking once they have started, or who cannot refrain from drinking in inappropriate situations are called "alcoholics".
Some of the indications that a person needs help to deal with an alcohol problem are:
Efforts to identify the cause of alcoholism have led to research on personality disorders, the effects of culture, liver metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, the central nervous system, hormonal imbalances, and heredity.
Two areas in particular have been identified as initiating factors in the
development of alcoholism:
There is one alcoholic for every ten drinkers in the United States. Regardless of their pattern of use, they are all seeking the same thing: the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Some only go on occasional binges, and some drink regularly, whether it be all day, or only at night, or only on weekends or holidays. Some cannot stop drinking once they start, until they reach a certain level of intoxication, and some try to maintain an alcoholic euphoria as long as possible.
All types of people become alcoholics, and all alcoholics invariably tend to deny their problem. There are perhaps four male alcoholics to every female alcoholic; but the females are increasing. The highest percentage of alcoholics is no longer among middle-aged men; but is now among men under the age of thirty.
No one knows why yet; but the earlier in life alcoholism develops, the faster it seems to occur. Teenagers can become alcoholics after only three or four months of alcohol use; young adults after only two or three years of heavy drinking; and later in life it may occur after six to ten years of heavy, steady drinking.
There is also a significant ethnic association with alcoholism. Because of cultural backgrounds, Americans of Italian (nutritional teachings), Jewish (religious teachings), and Chinese (cultural reasons) heritage have shown low rates of alcoholism.
On the other hand, Americans of Irish and Anglo-Saxon heritage are from cultures which encouraged the use of alcohol to enjoy the intoxicating effects, and have unusually high rates of alcoholism. The longer the families have been exposed to the American culture, however, the more they move toward the national norm.
The treatment of alcoholism calls for encouragement and support from all sides. Ideally, the family, physician, friends, and even employer and work associates are included in discussions of support and treatment. Treatment should include addressing the physical effects of long term drinking, as well as the personality and social factors that may have contributed to the development of alcoholism.
The first emphasis in treatment should be full acceptance of the problem drinker as an ill person needing long term treatment on an outpatient basis.
In addition to the physician, professional treatment is usually necessary. The well-known organization, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) may still be the leading source of such treatment. Their services are free, and are based on mutual support and understanding of the special problems of alcoholism through personal experience. This organization is nation-wide.
In addition, support for the spouses of alcoholics is provided by the organization Al-Anon; and at the organization.
Alateen the teen-age children of alcoholics are able to meet to help one another.
Physicians sometimes use Antabuse (disulfiram). This is used in a tablet form, and is taken daily. It produces a toxic reaction if any alcohol is consumed, causing severe nausea. It can help the alcoholic remain sober while receiving other needed treatment, such as individual and group psychotherapy, vocational counseling, social work services, and other approaches used in combination with AA and Antabuse.
It is the "light drinker" (no more than 1 drink, 1 glass of wine, or 1 beer per day) who tends to live longer than either the abstainer, or those who drink more. If you are a "light drinker" (no more than 1 drink, 1 glass of wine, or 1 beer per day), you can expect to live two to ten years longer, and be healthier than those who drink more; all other considerations being equal.
If you are a "moderate drinker" of 2, 3, or 4 drinks in the course of a day, you are losing ground daily in the maintenance of your health; and you are likely to live at least two to six years less than if you were a "light drinker". At this stage of the game, you could probably cut down on your own. If you have difficulty in doing so, you should get help, immediately.
Those who drink to excess, however, have markedly shorter life spans. This is due in part to the development of liver disease, which in turn allows the development of a number of other health problems. If you are a "heavy drinker" (more than 4 drinks per day), you may have already frankly considered yourself an alcoholic. If not, you should immediately consult a helpful organization that will support you in arriving at an accurate assessment of your drinking problem. And as a "heavy drinker" you definitely do have a drinking problem, which will most likely kill you at least 5 to 15 years early.
Hard drugs are clearly deadly, and are a downhill path to physical, mental, and emotional destruction. So-called "soft" drugs are also dangerous - especially since they are progressive and/or harmful to the mind and body; especially the nervous system.
"Crack" cocaine ("rocks") are perhaps the most addictive, and for most people, one puff can result in lifetime addiction.
The most harmful of all the drugs might be "Angel Dust", or PCP, since every puff causes permanent brain damage.
Research on marijuana is exposing uses of a true medicinal nature for the treatment of glaucoma, arthritis, and several other ailments. It may be prescribed by a doctor in certain states for these uses, as well as for the relief of the nausea caused by chemotherapy.
Carl Bourhenne, MA
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