Tuesday June 25, 2019

WHO Warns More Than 40 Percent of Smokers Globally Die from Lung Diseases

The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption

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FILE - An anti-tobacco warning is seen on a road divider on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. VOA

The World Health Organization warns that more than 40 percent of smokers globally die from lung diseases, such as cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and tuberculosis. The warning comes ahead of World No Tobacco Day this Friday, with the theme being, “Don’t let tobacco take your breath away.”

The World Health Organization says that every year, tobacco use kills at least eight million people. The U.N. agency reports 3.3 million users will die from lung-related diseases. This number includes people exposed to second-hand smoke, among them more than 60,000 children under age five who die of lower respiratory infections due to passive smoking.

Vinayak Prasad, the acting director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, says the global economic cost of using tobacco is $1.4 trillion. This is due to health expenditures, loss of productivity from illness and other expenses resulting from smoking-related diseases. He says both lives and money could be saved if people stopped smoking.

lung diseases
Cigarettes don’t contain just nicotine but a range of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals you wouldn’t want near your body. Pixabay

“What we see also is that if people who are smoking, almost 20 percent of the world is smoking, if they quit, some of the benefits actually come very quickly, especially the lung diseases. Within two weeks, the lung functions actually start to become normal,” he said.

The World Health Organization reports that globally, the prevalence of smoking has gone down from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016. But the WHO, notes that the number of tobacco users worldwide has remained stable at 1.1 billion because of population growth.

Kerstin Schotte, WHO technical officer in the same department as Prasad, notes a steeper decline in the prevalence of smoking in wealthier countries, compared to poorer ones.

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The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption. Pixabay

“And, some low-and-middle income countries even have increasing smoking prevalence rates. This is where the tobacco industry is going at the moment,” she said. “They know a little bit that it is a lost cause in Europe and North America, so they are going into the low-and-middle-income countries, targeting especially women and children there.”

ALSO READ: Over 60% E-cigarette Smokers Want to Quit: Study

The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption.

These include the creation of smoke-free environments, imposing a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. WHO also suggests putting a high tax on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to make them unaffordable for many, especially young people. (VOA)

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Smoking May Increase Risk of Developing Hypertension, Warn Researchers

The results were published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

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FILE - New findings show that smoking causes devastating genetic damage, or mutations, in the cells of various organs in the body. VOA

Smoking may increase the risk of developing hypertension by impairing the body’s blood pressure autocorrect system, warn researchers.

“The human body has a buffering system that continuously monitors and maintains a healthy blood pressure. If blood pressure drops, a response called muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is triggered to bring blood pressure back up to normal levels,” said Lawrence Sinoway from Penn State University in the US.

An additional system — called the baroreflex — helps correct if blood pressure gets too high, he added.

According to Sinoway, the study found that after a burst of MSNA, the rise in blood pressure in a chronic smoker was about twice as great as in a non-smoker, pushing blood pressure to unhealthy levels. The researchers suspect that impairment of baroreflex may be the culprit.

“When the sympathetic nervous system fires, like with MSNA, your blood pressure rises and then a series of things happen to buffer that increase, to try to attenuate it,” Sinoway said.

“We think that in smokers, that buffering — the baroreflex — is impaired.”

Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay
Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay

The results suggest that this impairment may be connected to hypertension, said Jian Cui, Associate Professor at Penn State College of Medicine.

“The greater rise in blood pressure in response to MSNA may contribute to a higher resting blood pressure level in smokers without hypertension,” Cui said.

“It’s possible that this higher response to MSNA could also contribute to the eventual development of hypertension,” Cui added.

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The researchers said that while previous research has found a link between chronic smokers and higher levels of MSNA bursts, less was known about what happened to blood pressure after these bursts.

For the study, the researchers examined 60 participants — 18 smokers and 42 non-smokers. None of the participants had hypertension.

The results were published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. (IANS)