A Kick In The Gut
There seems to be no end to the amount of damage cigarette smoking can do. We are very aware of the negative health affects, especially lung cancer. It is linked to birth defects, stillbirth, and miscarriage in women who smoke. It causes endless grief for everyone, although while the habit is in full swing, the negative effects of it are often overlooked.
Smoking And The Stomach
It takes about 20 years for a smoker's stomach to return to the point of health that is present in the stomach of a person who never smoked. That's a long time. Along with stomach cancer (and numerous other deadly illnesses), smoking is also associated with the increased risk of colorectal polyps and bowel cancer.
Smokers who are infected with H.pylori, a common bacterial infection, often end up with peptic ulcer disease as well. These painful ulcers strike the stomach and/or the duodenum, which is part of the small intestine that is joined to the stomach. Perforated ulcers, bleeding ulcers, and severe complications that can lead to death are all associated with smoking. While peptic ulcers are treatable, the success of the treatment is minimal when people continue smoking after treatment.
Peptic Ulcer Disease
Smoking promotes peptic ulcer disease and creates an environment in the stomach and gut for problems in the following ways: it promotes duodenal reflux, the backing up of the contents of the intestine into the stomach; increases acidity in the duodenum increasing risk for H.pylori infection; reduces blood flow to the stomach by constricting blood vessels, damaging tissues and slowing healing of ulcers; reduces the production of natural fluids the body uses to protect itself from free radical damage to tissues. The good news is that most of this damage can be halted within hours and days of smoking cessation.
Crohn's Disease And Smoking
Crohn's disease is a chronic, and very painful inflammatory bowel condition in which sufferers experience intestinal bleeding and severe diarrhea. Treatment for Crohn's disease includes surgical removal of parts of the bowel that are irreparable. Smoking greatly increases the risk for Crohn's and people with Crohn's who smoke tend to have more severe symptoms, requiring surgery more frequently and earlier than non-smokers with Crohn's.
Nicotine is an addictive substance as well as a poison which has the capability to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter. The stomach overproduces acid when the sphincter is weakened. Sodium bicarbonate (the counterbalance to stomach acid) produced in the pancreas is decreased and the result is hyper stomach acid activity, acid reflux, gassiness, bloating, and belching. All from inhaling cigarettes...
Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition causing stress and discomfort that can be very disruptive to daily life. Tobacco smoke worsens the symptoms of IBS significantly since it is a stimulant, a potent GI tract irritant, as well as a carcinogen. Even if cancer is not the end result, the pain, discomfort, and stress caused by stomach and intestinal problems as a result of smoking are less than desirable.