Once you look at the substantial list of hazardous compounds in tobacco smoke, it’s practically irrational to imagine why modern society still tolerates smoking, and why Government authorities make only small efforts to limit the habit. Any one of these chemicals, that are breathed in whenever a cigarette smoker takes a breath, would be totally banned were it to be found in a foodstuff! Possibly the only unrestricted gas more hazardous than tobacco smoke is vehicle exhaust, and you would need to draw it straight from the exhaust pipe to obtain anything similar to the concentration that is inhaled through burning tobacco.
As outlined by Cancer Research UK, just one tobacco cigarette produces a deadly combination of about 4,000 chemical substances such as:
- Tar - a blend of hazardous chemicals
- Arsenic - found in timber preservatives
- Benzene - an industrial solvent, processed from oil
- Cadmium - found in electric batteries
- Formaldehyde - utilized in mortuaries and paint production
- Polonium-210 - an extremely radioactive element
- Chromium - utilized to make dye, paint and alloys
- 1,3-Butadiene - utilized for plastic production
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - a group of hazardous DNA-damaging chemical substances
- Nitrosamines - another group of DNA-damaging compounds
- Acrolein - previously used as a chemical weapon
Other toxins in tobacco smoke:
- Hydrogen cyanide - employed as an industrial pesticide
- Carbon monoxide - present in vehicle exhausts and used in chemicals production
- Nitrogen oxides - a primary component of smog
- Ammonia - used to produce fertilisers and explosives
Tar is a term which describes an accumulation of solid particles that cigarette smokers breathe in when they light a cigarette. It is a blend of many compounds, several of which can lead to cancer. When it settles, tar forms a gooey, dark brown residue that can stain smokers’ teeth, fingertips and respiratory system.
Because tar is listed on packs, it is possible to think it is the only real dangerous element of tobacco cigarettes. However, many of the most harmful compounds in cigarette smoke exist as fumes, and do not count as part of tar. This means cigarettes with significantly less tar still possess the rest of the poisonous compounds.
Arsenic is among the most harmful compounds in tobacco cigarettes. It can lead to cancers and also harms the heart and its arteries.
Small quantities of arsenic build up in smokers’ bodies and build up to greater levels over weeks and years. In addition to any immediate consequences, it can aggravate the impact of other chemical substances by disturbing our capacity to restore our DNA.
Benzene is a solvent used to produce many other chemical substances, such as gasoline. It is well established that benzene can lead to many forms of cancer, especially leukaemia. It may account for up to 50 % of the deaths from leukaemia brought on by tobacco smoking.
Cigarette smoke includes considerable amounts of benzene and makes up a large percentage of the exposure to this toxin. The typical cigarette smoker breathes in around 10 times more benzene compared to non-smokers.
Cadmium is a metal employed mainly for making electric batteries. Nearly all cadmium in our bodies originates from contact with cigarette smoke. Cigarette smokers may have double the amount of cadmium in their bloodstream as non-smokers.
Research has discovered that the levels of cadmium within cigarette smoke are capable of impacting our health. It is a recognized cause of many forms of cancer, and can also harm the renal system and the linings of the arterial blood vessels.
The body has proteins that clean up dangerous compounds like cadmium, but the levels in cigarette smoke can overburden these proteins. Cadmium can also stop our tissues from restoring damaged DNA. Due to this, it can make the impact of other chemical substances more serious.
Formaldehyde is a harmful chemical substance utilized to destroy microorganisms, preserve dead bodies and produce other chemical substances. It is one of the chemicals in cigarette smoke most likely to result in illnesses in our respiratory system and breathing passages.
Formaldehyde is also a recognized as a cause of cancer. It is thought that even the a small amount in second-hand cigarette smoke can raise our lifetime chance of cancer.
Cigarette smoke is one of the main sources of formaldehyde exposure. Areas where individuals smoke cigarettes can have 3 times the regular quantities of this toxin.
Polonium is a rare radioactive element, and polonium-210 is its most frequent type. Polonium powerfully gives off an extremely harmful form of radiation known as alpha-radiation that can generally be obstructed by thin layers of skin.
Cigarette smoke comprises traces of polonium, that become laid down within the breathing passages and send out the radiation straight to surrounding tissues.
The respiratory system of cigarette smokers can be subjected to 4 times the degree of polonium than those of non-smokers, and particular areas may get a hundred times more radiation. One investigation calculated that somebody smoking a pack daily will get the same level of radiation of 200 upper body X-rays per year.
Chromium is a metal employed to produce metal alloys, chemical dyes and paints and is available in differing types. Chromium III or ‘trivalent chromium’ is most frequently used. It is available as a nutritional supplement and is safe.
However, chromium VI or ‘hexavalent chromium’ is extremely poisonous, can be found in cigarette smoke, and is proven to cause lung cancer. It enables other cancer-causing compounds (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to adhere more easily to DNA and damage it.
1,3-butadiene or BDE is an industrial compound utilized for rubber production. Several researchers think that of all the chemical compounds in cigarette smoke, BDE may present the highest total cancer threat. It might not be as effective at triggering cancers as a few of the other chemical compounds listed here, but it is present in considerable amounts in cigarette smoke.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs are a number of formidable cancer-causing compounds that can harm DNA and induce tissues to become tumours.
One of those compounds - benzopyrene or BAP - is among the most extensively researched of all tobacco toxins. BAP directly harms p53, a gene that usually safeguards the human body against cancer.
Nitrosamines are a number of chemical compounds that can directly hurt DNA, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
They are present in small quantities in foods. But cigarettes and tobacco products, including the ones that are chewed instead of smoked, are undoubtedly the biggest source of contact with these chemical substances. Whilst they are found in fairly modest levels in cigarettes, they are extremely powerful cancer-causing substances.
Acrolein is a poisonous gas and is also one of the most abundant compounds in tobacco smoke. It belongs to the identical group of chemical substances as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, each of which can lead to cancer.
We now know that Acrolein can lead to DNA damage much like that observed in lung cancer sufferers. Because cigarette smoke has concentrations of up to 1,000 times more Acrolein than other DNA-damaging compounds, it might be a significant cause of lung cancer.
Acrolein also prevents our cells from restoring DNA injury, much like arsenic and cadmium. And like hydrogen cyanide, it will kill the hairs that typically filter our respiratory system of many other toxic compounds.
A few of the other cancer-causing components of cigarette smoke consist of:
- Metals, like nickel, lead, cobalt and beryllium. While you might be exposed to a few of these metals via household products or food, inhaling them in cigarette smoke is more serious, as they are quickly assimilated by the respiratory system.
- Acetaldehyde, which is also formed in your cells if you consume alcohol - it is the cause of hangover symptoms
- Hydrazine, an extremely poisonous compound used primarily in rocket fuel
Hydrogen cyanide is a toxic gas. Of all the chemical substances in cigarette smoke, it does the most severe harm to the cardiovascular system and capillaries.
Hydrogen cyanide doesn't result in cancer, but it raises the cancer risk of many other substances by damaging cilia. These are very small hairs coating the breathing passages which help to clear poisons away. By getting rid of cilia, hydrogen cyanide will cause other harmful substances to get trapped in the lungs and breathing passages.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless gas with no odor. It is produced by burning carbon-based fuels, like propane gas in cookers or gasoline in vehicle engines. It can make up as much as 5% of cigarette smoke.
Carbon monoxide adheres to red blood cells, swapping out oxygen. This reduces the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen and deprives the cells and internal organs of this essential gas.
Like hydrogen cyanide, Carbon Monoxide destroys cilia and decreases the lungs’ capacity to clear away poisons. Which means that while carbon monoxide does not trigger cancers directly, it can make it easier for many other compounds to do so.
Nitrogen oxide is a gas present in vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke.
Our bodies use it in tiny quantities in order to transport signals between cells. But in more substantial levels it is a significant air pollutant. It directly harms cells and leads to irritation in the respiratory system.
Usually, the body generates small quantities of nitrogen oxide, that causes the breathing passages to expand. The large amount of nitrogen oxide in cigarette smoke alters things in two ways:
- Any time cigarette smoke is breathed in, it stretches the breathing passages even more, making it simpler for the lung area to soak up nicotine and other chemical compounds.
- When not smoking, it turns off the internal nitrogen oxide production line, inducing the breathing passages to tighten. This is the reason why regular cigarette smokers frequently have breathlessness.
Ammonia is an additional poisonous gas, and is found in several bathroom and kitchen cleaning products. Several reports have discovered that ammonia increases the addictive power of nicotine. It changes nicotine into a gas that is much more easily distributed around the lung area, breathing passages and circulatory system.
Similar to carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, ammonia also destroys cilia.
Cigarette smoke also includes a number of other toxins that produce side effects. These can be transported across the human body by way of the arteries.
In addition to hydrogen cyanide and ammonia, gases such as sulphur dioxide also destroy cilia (protective hairs) in the respiratory system. This prevents them from having the ability to clear away many other dangerous compounds.
Chemical substances like hydrogen sulphide and pyridine inflame the breathing passages. Toluene can harm brain cells and hinder their correct function.
And all of these are legally obtainable, and even subject to taxes, as a part of cigarettes.