Tobacco smoking dates back to between 3000 and 5000 BC which spread to Europe and Asia in the 17th century through trade routes of the time. Initially restricted to certain segments of a number of societies it became pervasive, to a large extent, with the automation of the cigarette rolling process.
It was German scientists, in the 1920s, who first established that cancer was related to smoking. The findings heralded the first anti-smoking campaign known in modern times, to be cut short with the fall of Nazi Germany at the end of the Second World War.
A clear connection between cancer and smoking was demonstrated by British scientists in the 1950s and, ever since, evidence to that effect has been growing.
A high percentage of smokers get hooked at an early age because of imagined pleasures of smoking and to be in with the rest. As time passes, the motivation to continue emanates from the fear or avoidance of withdrawal symptoms.
A study has revealed that young smokers are mostly victims of advertising campaigns that glorify cigarette smoking. The habit can also be picked up from parents, siblings, and friends.
The unintentional consumption of tobacco smoke is called passive smoking and can be of two types, second-hand smoke (SHS) and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), also called third-hand smoke. Second-hand involuntary consumption takes place when the tobacco is still burning while ETS is the result of smoke left in the air even after the cigarette has been put out.
Reasons for smoking
The most commonly heard reasons for puffing away are:
* Addiction to tobacco smoke. Abstinence will induce withdrawal symptoms and mild cold turkey
* Pleasure derived from tobacco smoke
* Relaxation – cigarette is considered by most smokers as a stress buster.
* Social smoking which may or may not involves inhaling smoke into the lungs.
* Smoking exclusively for losing and maintaining body weight
While the reasons are not gender-specific, it may differ in certain cases in that women can be more inclined toward social smoking and smoking for the release of tension.
Smoking and health
One of the major public health concerns, smoking is decidedly harmful to the extent of being the primary cause of preventable mortality. Diseases that can result from smoking are:
* Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
* Heart attacks
* Cancers of the lungs, larynx, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, and bladder
While quitting is the best suggestion anyone can give, it is not always easy, and then, there are those who just don’t want to give up the so-called pleasures of smoking. Well, if you can’t give the butt a kick in the butt, the best you can do is adopt eating habits that can somewhat slow down the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on the body.
Recommended foods for smokers
1. Flavonoid-rich foods
Certain flavonoid compounds like Epicatechin, Catechin, Quercetin and Kaempferol help prevent lung cancer in tobacco smokers according to a research published in the journal Cancer.
Flavonoids are plant pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may have the potential to protect lung cancer by checking the growth of cancer cells, not letting tumors to develop blood vessels that feed them, and fighting DNA damaging effects that result from smoking.
Foods that contain flavonoid compounds can be found in:
* Green tea, black tea, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, cocoa, and strawberries contain Catechin.
* Apples, peppers, red wine, blueberries, bilberries, blackberries, beans, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, kale, onions and citrus fruits are good sources of Quercetin
* Apples, grapes, tomatoes, green tea, potatoes, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, and spinach have Kaempferol.
2. Foods containing Phytoestrogens
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that Phytoestrogens can lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers as well as non-smokers.
There are three basic types of Phytoestrogens (Isoflavones, Coumesterol, and Lignans) found in foods that should be consumed regularly by smokers to reduce smoking-related vulnerability to lung cancer.
* Chickpeas, soybeans (unprocessed), peanuts, red clover, alfalfa, fava, beans, and kudzu contain good amounts of Isoflavones.
* Fatty meat and meat products such as sausages, butter, full-fat cheese, milk, cream and yogurt, butter, hard margarine, coconut and palm oils and coconut cream, bean, peas, clover, spinach, and sprouts are good sources of Coumesterol
* Flax seeds are the best source of Lignans. Other good sources include foods such as whole grains, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, kale, broccoli, berries, rye grains, linseeds, carrots, spinach, and other vegetables.
3. Beta-cryptoxanthin rich foods
Beta-cryptoxanthin rich foods have been known to minimize the risk of lung cancer and can be found in:
* Red bell pepper – without salt, cooked, boiled and drained
* Pumpkin – without salt, cooked, boiled and drained
* Papaya – raw
* Tangerines – canned with light syrup
4. Vitamin-enriched foods
* Papaya, cantaloupe and collard greens may reduce the risk of emphysema in smokers.
5. Foods rich in Zinc
Zinc plays an important role in preventing and reversing respiratory ailments such as colds which smokers are highly vulnerable to. Food sources are:
* Beef, by far, is the best source of high levels of zinc
* Shrimp, kidney beans, oysters, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and watermelon seeds are other good sources of the mineral.
6. Nutritional Supplements
* Vitamin C supplements – Smoking causes depletion of antioxidant Vitamin C to an extent which cannot be replaced by foods alone and, therefore, supplements are highly recommended for smokers and ex-smokers.
* Multivitamin and Multimineral supplements – Alongside high potency Vitamin C, multivitamin and multimineral supplements should be taken to reduce smoking-related risks.
7. Physical Activity
Physical activity helps in minimizing smoking-related risks and can even help smokers quit. Here are some benefits of quitting that may motivate smokers to exercise and kick the ‘butt.’
* 20 minutes after quitting, the heart rate drops.
* 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drops to normal.
* 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, lung function begins to improve.
* 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.