Breaking The Addiction – Smoking & Epilepsy

The 1982 United States Surgeon General’s report stated that “Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality [death] in the United States.” This statement is as true today as it was then.

Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use are acquired behaviors − activities that people choose to do – smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society.

As of 2011,  43.8 million US adults were tobacco smokers.  Tobacco is the most harmful, dangerous LEGAL drug available to the public.

What kinds of illness and death are caused by smoking cigarettes?

About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year about 443,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Cancers caused by smoking

Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It is linked with an increased risk of these cancers:

  • Lung
  • Larynx (voice box)
  • Oral cavity (mouth, tongue, and lips)
  • Nose and sinuses
  • Pharynx (throat)
  • Esophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach)
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Cervix
  • Kidney
  • Bladder
  • Ovary (a type called mucinous ovarian cancer)
  • Colorectum (the colon and/or the rectum)
  • Acute myeloid leukemia

Smoking accounts for 87% of lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and is one of the hardest cancers to treat.

Dangers Of Smoking & Epilepsy

Smoking cigarettes also can trigger seizures. The nicotine in cigarettes acts on receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, which increases neuronal firing. Smoking contributes to the death of approximately 500,000 people each year from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Smoking tobacco is not known to have any definite effects on seizure control. But persons with epilepsy are not only susceptible to all the usual effects of smoking, but also are at increased risk of injury or death from fire.

What’s In A Cigarette?

For a start, here’s the who’s who of the most toxic ingredients used to make cigarettes tastier, and more quickly, effectively addictive:

Ammonia: Household cleaner.
Arsenic: Used in rat poisons.
Benzene: Used in making dyes, synthetic rubber.
Butane: Gas; used in lighter fluid.
Carbon monoxide: Poisonous gas.
Cadmium: Used in batteries.
Cyanide: Lethal poison.
DDT: A banned insecticide.
Ethyl Furoate: Causes liver damage in animals.
Lead: Poisonous in high doses.
Formaldehyde: Used to preserve dead specimens.
Methoprene: Insecticide.
Maltitol: Sweetener for diabetics.
Napthalene: Ingredient in mothballs.
Methyl isocyanate: Its accidental release killed 2000 people in Bhopal, India, in 1984.
Polonium: Cancer-causing radioactive element.

For the whole list of 599 additives used in cigarettes, see the BBC Worldservice page What’s In A Cigarette.

How To Kick The Habit For Good

Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack–a–day smoker, quitting can be tough. But the more you learn about your options and prepare for quitting, the easier the process will be. With the right game plan tailored to your needs, you can break the addiction, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good. (Source: Helpguide.org)

My Story

I was a smoker of about 7 years. I began with my friends when I was in High School. At the time, ‘Everyone was doing it’. That was the thing ‘cool and carefree people’ did. So I joined in on the fad thinking that I could quit any time and that I wouldn’t get addicted. I could stop any time I wanted to. I had no idea the power of addiction and the hold it would have on me. I smoked all of the time. With friends, at parties, when I was happy, when I was mad, when I was sad, when I was bored and for no good reason. I always found excuses to smoke. I smoked with Coffee, after eating, first thing in the morning etc. I had become an addicted smoker. It started off as a choice and became an addiction over time. I heard the rumblings about how unhealthy it is for you but it didn’t phase me. Even in my college Internships at the hospital, witnessing a man under anesthesia having a bronchoscopy performed upon him, as the doctors vacuumed quarter-sized clots from the chambers within his lungs, turning to us and informing us behind his surgical mask “When this man wakes up, I have to tell him that he has lung cancer…”  it still wasn’t enough to phase me to quit for good. As a matter of fact, I remember being so rattled that I took a break and… smoked a cigarette. Most everyone knew that I smoked cigarettes. However, I didn’t disclose this to everyone. Some never did discover that I had formally smoked. Some were surprised to discover this about me.

I’m very happy to say that I’ve been smoke-free for about 5 years! When I became diagnosed with Epilepsy in 2008, I finally made the decision to give up all bad habits. Especially smoking cigarettes. My husband too, followed suit and quit along with me. We both decided that we would turn our lives around completely for the better. I started my quitting journey by wearing the nicotine patch for two weeks. The rest of the way, I did it on my own. I adopted exercise, healthier eating habits, meditation and educating myself of the health hazards and dangers of smoking. Quitting wasn’t easy but educating myself and picking up healthier habits made it a whole lot easier of a process. I also discovered just how unhealthy it is to be a smoker and an Epileptic. When you’re a smoker, the nicotine heads straight for the brain causing your brain to release enjoyment chemicals. Your brain becomes tricked on what is good enjoyment and bad enjoyment. Your brain needs oxygen but instead your brain and body are filled with harmful and toxic chemicals inhaled by cigarettes. Nicotine and Epilepsy medication can become at odds with one another as they both are meant to travel to the same location to provide the brain with something.

Cigarettes = False and harmful stimulation

Epilepsy Medication = Seizure Control 

Both may be able to coincide but not always. One will win over the other at some point. The nicotine will counteract the strength of the medication you need to control your seizures. Is that a risk worth taking? No longer for me, no. Life is so much more important than an addictive cigarette created to harm and to kill. Not created for enjoyment and relaxation. I would highly suggest anyone to quit smoking cigarettes. Especially if you have Epilepsy. Don’t double the chances of your seizures. Don’t stunt becoming seizure-free. Do it in your own time, when the time is right for you but try not to wait too long. You once lived without cigarettes and you can do it again. You will be so glad that you kicked the habit to the curb and out of your life completely. If you want or need, quit with a friend or family member. Pick up a hobby together. Celebrate quitting together.

If you go for it and decide to quit like I have, I am extremely proud of you and I applaud your decision! Write me and let me know how you’re doing! How you’re feeling since quitting! Let me know if its made a big or even little impact on your life and overall health!

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!

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