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Smoking Benefits? Unconventional Health Wisdom

A few days ago we reported that the Lagos State government was coming down hard on smokers, insisting that public smoking remains unacceptable in the State. The report went on to criminalise smoking and of course demonise cigarette makers. Given the numerous health complications which arise from the smelly habit, most would consider the demonization well deserved. As far as the State was concerned it was simple: there were no smoking benefits.

Smoking Benefits: What if it was the case however that tobacco was actually good for the human body? In fact, study after study reveal that there were indeed clear health benefit of smoking – from  children, to ageing adults, and wait for it, pregnant women!

According to a report in livescience.com, there are 5 undisputed benefits to smoking:

Smoking lowers risk of knee-replacement surgery

Surprising results from a new study have revealed that men who smoke had less risk of undergoing total joint replacement surgery than those who never smoked.

The study, from the University of Adelaide in Australia, appears in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. What could be the connection? Knee-replacement surgery was more common among joggers and the obese; smokers rarely jog, and they are less likely to be morbidly obese

After controlling for age, weight and exercise, the researchers were at a loss to explain the apparent, albeit slight protective effects of smoking for osteoporosis. It could be that the nicotine in tobacco helps prevent cartilage and joint deterioration.

2. Smoking lowers risk of Parkinson’s disease

Numerous studies have identified the uncanny inverse relationship between smoking and Parkinson’s disease. Long-term smokers are somehow protected against Parkinson’s, and it’s not because smokers die of other things earlier. [10 Easy Paths to Self-Destruction]

The most recent, well-conducted study was published in a March 2010 issue of the journal Neurology. Far from determining a cause for the protective effect, these researchers found that the number of years spent smoking, more so than the number of cigarettes smoked daily, mattered more for a stronger protective effect.

Harvard researchers were among the first to provide convincing evidence that smokers were less likely to develop Parkinson’s. In a study published in Neurology in March 2007, these researchers found the protective effect wanes after smokers quit. And they concluded, in their special scientific way, that they didn’t have a clue as to why.

3. Smoking lowers risk of obesity

Another benefit of smoking — and, in particular, the nicotine in tobacco smoke — is appetite suppression. This has been known for centuries, dating back to indigenous cultures in America in the pre-Columbus era. Tobacco companies caught on by the 1920s and began targeting women with the lure that smoking would make them thinner.

A study published in the July 2011 issue of the journal Physiology & Behavior, in fact, is one of many stating that the inevitable weight gain upon quitting smoking is a major barrier in getting people to stop, second only to addiction.

The relationship between smoking and weight control is complex: Nicotine itself acts as both a stimulant and appetite suppressant; and the act of smoking triggers behavior modification that prompts smokers to snack less. Smoking also might make food less tasty for some smokers, further curbing appetite. As an appetite suppressant, nicotine appears to act on a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, at least in mice, as revealed in a study by Yale researchers published in the June 10, 2011, issue of the journal Science.

No respectable doctor would recommend smoking for weight control, given the toxic baggage accompanying cigarettes. This recent Yale study, however, does offer an inkling of hope for a safe diet drug to help obese people control their appetites.

4. Smoking lowers risk of death after some heart attacks

Compared with non-smokers, smokers who have had heart attacks seem to have lower mortality rates and more favorable responses to two kinds of therapy to remove plaque from their arteries: fibrinolytic therapy, which is basically medication; and angioplasty, which removes the plaque by inserting balloons or stents into the arteries.

There’s a catch, though. The reason why smokers have heart attacks is that smoke scars the arteries, allowing fat and plaque to build up in the first place. So, one theory as to why smokers do better than non-smokers after such therapies is that they are younger, experiencing their first heart attack approximately 10 years before the non-smoker.

A study published in an August 2005 issue of the American Heart Journal, however, states that age alone is not enough to fully explain the survival differences and that “the smoker’s paradox is alive and well.”  No alternative theories have been put forth since.

5. Smoking helps the heart drug clopidogrel work better

Clopidogrel is a drug used to inhibit blood clots for those patients suffering from coronary artery disease and other circulatory diseasesleading to strokes and heart attacks. Smoking seems to help clopidogrel do its job better.

A study by Korean researchers in the October 2010 issue of the journal Thrombosis Research builds upon work by Harvard researchers published in 2009 that demonstrates the benefit of smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day. It seems that something in cigarette smoke activates certain proteins called cytochromes, which convert clopidogrel into a more active state.

Again, no respectable doctor is encouraging patients to start smoking to get the most out of clopidogrel. But this and the other four “benefits” of smoking reveal how tobacco — perhaps not unlike other potentially toxic plants — might contain certain chemicals of real therapeutic value.

And according to the “signs of our times”health and wellness report of January 2011 “Perhaps most shockingly, tobacco smoke’s anti-inflammatory effects may actually provide some benefits to children who are exposed to secondhand smoke. While this is certainly not worth at-home experimentation, one astonishing study conducted in Sweden observed two generations of Swedish children and found that the children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema, and food allergies. The studied groups included 6909 adults and 4472 children, and the findings remained consistent, even when adjusted to reflect other variables.

Other surprising academic findings reveal that tobacco may have a positive effect on pregnancy, although this, too, should not be left up to individual experimentation. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that preeclampsia, an extremely common but potentially deadly condition, is significantly less common in expectant mothers who smoke cigarettes than in expectant mothers who do not smoke.

While it is undebated that tobacco cigarettes pose a number of deadly hazards to human health, they also reveal a surprising link to decreased mortality and morbidity for some conditions. While it may be interesting to note tobacco’s few benefits, it is also critical for all consumers to recognize that its positive aspects are few compared to its many very serious risks. Even taking the health benefits of smoking into account, tobacco smokers can expect to live shorter lives and experience many chronic diseases”.

So, is there a difference between use of tobacco and use of cigarettes? Is it possible to separate the harmful carcinogensmoking benefits ekoconnect.nets in cigarettes from the seemingly useful elements found in tobacco/nicotine?

Well, one increasingly popular pastime may just be the answer to the question: vaping, i.e. new age smoking. Once the sole preserve of middle eastern themed Hookah bars in the form of the popular shisha, vaping especially with nicotine flavours has found favour with erstwhile cigarette smokers.  It is certainly gaining ground as the safe alternative for the delivery of nicotine to users without the harmful burning and smoking process; the term vaping is derived from “vapour”, which is the only waste product from vaping. The process is therefore considered environmentally safe.

Should vaping be treated the same as smoking by Lagos state laws? It may well be until there is a better understanding of vaping, and until there is a strong enough advocacy group for vaping.

Until such a time, it is probably best to stay away from public smoking of anything from cigarettes, hashish, vaping or jumbo – Fela style.

 

iam@ekoconnect.net

 

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