MEASURE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE ACCURATELY, CONTROL IT, AND LIVE LONGER: THE IMPORTANCE AND HEALTH BENEFITS

MEASURE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE ACCURATELY, CONTROL IT, AND LIVE LONGER: THE IMPORTANCE AND HEALTH BENEFITS

World Hypertension Day is observed annually on May 17th to raise awareness about the importance of hypertension prevention, detection, and control. It serves as a global platform to increase awareness about hypertension and its associated risks. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects millions of individuals worldwide and is a major contributor to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. Today, it aims to empower individuals to take charge of their cardiovascular health, educate our communities about the importance of blood pressure monitoring, and promote preventive measures to reduce the burden of hypertension-related diseases.

As part of the 2023 campaign, “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, and Live Longer,” This theme emphasizes the significance of accurate blood pressure measurement, effective control, and the potential for a longer and healthier life.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common health condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it typically does not have any noticeable symptoms. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other organ damage.

Maintaining optimal blood pressure is crucial for our overall well-being and longevity. ‘Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it throughout the body’. Accurate measurement, regular monitoring, and effective control of blood pressure play a vital role in preventing serious health complications. In this article, we will explore the importance of accurately measuring blood pressure, controlling it, and the health benefits associated with maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

To accurately measure your blood pressure, it is recommended that you use a reliable blood pressure monitor, such as a digital blood pressure monitor. It is also important to measure your blood pressure under the right conditions. You should be in a quiet and relaxed environment, avoid smoking or drinking coffee or alcohol, and sit with your feet flat on the floor and your arm at heart level.

Measuring your blood pressure accurately is the first step toward treating hypertension. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: the systolic pressure (top number) and the diastolic pressure (bottom number), measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Normal blood pressure is generally considered to be around 120/80 mmHg, and high blood pressure is usually defined as a reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher.

Controlling your blood pressure is the next step toward maintaining good health. Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, and quitting smoking can help lower your blood pressure. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to control your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication to help bring it down. It is important to take your medication as prescribed and to follow up with your doctor regularly to ensure that your blood pressure is under control.

Living longer is one of the many health benefits of controlling your blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, which are some of the leading causes of death worldwide. Additionally, maintaining a healthy blood pressure can help improve your overall quality of life. You may feel more energetic, have better sleep, and be able to perform your daily activities with more ease.

Friends remembered that maintaining optimal blood pressure levels is essential to preventing the onset and progression of various health conditions. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to serious complications, including:

High blood pressure, when unmanaged, puts strain on the heart and arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders.

Elevated blood pressure can damage one’s kidneys over time, leading to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. So make sure your blood pressure is within range.

Hypertension can affect the blood vessels in the eyes, potentially causing vision impairment or even blindness. It can lead to eye problems.

Research suggests that untreated hypertension may contribute to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

High blood pressure during pregnancy, known as gestational hypertension, can have adverse effects on both the mother and the baby. So make your health a priority.

Health Benefits of Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure Levels:

It helps reduce one’s chances of developing cardiovascular-related disease. By keeping your blood pressure within the recommended range, we significantly lower our risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, among other complications.

When we maintain optimal blood pressure, it will help our kidneys function properly, prevent avoidable health complications, and reduce the risk of developing cases such as chronic kidney disease.

Healthy blood pressure levels contribute to better brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. That is, maintaining normal blood pressure enhances brain health.

It helps improve eye health. When you have your blood pressure under control, it helps protect the delicate blood vessels in the eyes, reducing the risk of vision problems. So you can see why you must measure your blood pressure, among others.

For our women in the house, maintaining normal blood pressure within a safe range during pregnancy ensures the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby. So, get registered for antenatal care and make sure you don’t miss your antenatal days.

Key Messages and Recommendations:

Get Educated! Learn about hypertension, its risk factors, and the importance of regular blood pressure monitoring. Understand the proper techniques for accurate measurement.

Measure your blood pressure regularly by using a reliable blood pressure monitor. Follow the correct measurement techniques, such as sitting quietly for a few minutes before taking the measurement.

Adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit sodium intake, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and engage in regular physical activity.

Learn to manage stress. Practice stress-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and engaging in hobbies to reduce stress levels. This may go a long way toward maintaining your blood pressure.

The key is medication compliance. If you are prescribed blood pressure medication, take it as directed by your doctor or healthcare provider. Adhere to the recommended dosage and attend follow-up appointments to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

Seek medical advice! Consult with your doctor or healthcare provider for guidance on blood pressure management, individualized treatment plans, and lifestyle modifications.

By managing our blood pressure effectively and following our doctor’s recommendations, we can significantly reduce the risk of serious health complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and cognitive decline. Prioritizing our blood pressure management through lifestyle modifications and, if necessary, medical intervention can contribute to a longer, healthier life.

At the Rays of Hope Support Initiative (ROHSI), we are saying that, for accurate blood pressure, we must not just measure it but make sure that we put the blood pressure in a healthy range, seek medical advice, adhere to our medication, and follow any health tips given by our healthcare provider. Remember that regular monitoring of our blood pressure is crucial to our long-term health and well-being.

Courtesy: Rays of Hope Support Initiative (ROHSI) Board and Management Team

 

MASSIVE EFFORTS NEEDED TO REDUCE SALT INTAKE AND PROTECT LIVES

MASSIVE EFFORTS NEEDED TO REDUCE SALT INTAKE AND PROTECT LIVES

MASSIVE EFFORTS NEEDED TO REDUCE SALT INTAKE AND PROTECT LIVES

A first-of-its-kind World Health Organization (WHO) Global report on sodium intake reduction shows that the world is off-track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025. 

Sodium, an essential nutrient, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death when eaten in excess. The main source of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride), but it is also contained in other condiments such as sodium glutamate. The report shows that only 5% of WHO Member States are protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies and 73% of WHO Member States lack full range of implementation of such policies.

Implementing highly cost-effective sodium reduction policies could save an estimated 7 million lives globally by 2030. It is an important component of action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing deaths from noncommunicable diseases. But today, only nine countries (Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Uruguay) have a comprehensive package of recommended policies to reduce sodium intake.

“Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake is one of the main culprits,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.”

A comprehensive approach to sodium reduction includes adopting mandatory policies and WHO’s four “best buy” interventions related with sodium which greatly contribute to preventing noncommunicable diseases. These include:

  1. Reformulating foods to contain less salt, and setting targets for the amount of sodium in foods and meals
  2. Establishing public food procurement policies to limit salt or sodium rich foods in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and nursing homes
  3. Front-of-package labelling that helps consumers select products lower in sodium
  4. Behaviour change communication and mass media campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption

Countries are encouraged to establish sodium content targets for processed foods, in line with the WHO Global Sodium Benchmarks and enforce them though these policies.

Mandatory sodium reduction policies are more effective, as they achieve broader coverage and safeguard against commercial interests, while providing a level playing field for food manufacturers. As part of the report, WHO developed a Sodium country score card for Member States based on the type and number of sodium reduction policies they have in place. 

“This important report demonstrates that countries must work urgently to implement ambitious, mandatory, government-led sodium reduction policies to meet the global target of reducing salt consumption by 2025,” said Dr Tom Frieden, President, and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a not-for-profit organization working with countries to prevent 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease over 30 years. “There are proven measures that governments can implement and important innovations, such as low sodium salts. The world needs action, and now, or many more people will experience disabling or deadly—but preventable—heart attacks and strokes.”

The global average salt intake is estimated to be 10.8 grams per day, more than double the WHO recommendation of less than 5 grams of salt per day (one teaspoon). Eating too much salt makes it the top risk factor for diet and nutrition-related deaths. More evidence is emerging documenting links between high sodium intake and increased risk of other health conditions such as gastric cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.

WHO calls on Member States to implement sodium intake reduction policies without delay and to mitigate the harmful effects of excessive salt consumption. WHO also calls on food manufacturers to set ambitious sodium reduction targets in their products.

To read the report, visit: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240069985

OVERHEATING COOKING OIL CAN CAUSE HYPERTENSION, STROKE – NUTRITIONIST

OVERHEATING COOKING OIL CAN CAUSE HYPERTENSION, STROKE – NUTRITIONIST

OVERHEATING COOKING OIL CAN CAUSE HYPERTENSION, STROKE – NUTRITIONIST

By Angela Onwuzoo

A Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Ignatius Onimawo, has said that it is dangerous to overheat cooking oils, warning that eating foods cooked with such oil increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, and stroke.

Prof. Onimawo, a former Vice-Chancellor, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, said overheating vegetable oil converts it to trans fat, warning that trans fat is injurious to health.

According to him, trans fats are the worst type of fat that an individual can eat, stressing that trans fats have no known health benefits and are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and stroke worldwide.

Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the nutritionist noted that when vegetable oils are overheated continuously, they get converted into trans fatty acids and cause inflammation.

The former Nutrition Society of Nigeria President explained, “When you reuse vegetable oil or any cooking oil for that matter, and you do it more than twice, the tendency is that, if you are continuously heating the oil, the fatty acid composition of the oil can be transformed into trans fatty acid.

“When you are frying, the temperature of the oil is high. Then after that the same oil, you use it again and the temperature is high.

“By the time you are using it the third or the fourth time, there is going to be a transformation of the fatty acid. They will be converted into what we call trans fatty acids.

“These trans fatty acids are responsible for cardiovascular diseases. They even cause cardiovascular diseases more than saturated fats.

“That is why we normally advise, that if you have used oil more than once or twice, it is better to discard it.”

Mayo Clinic – a medical centre focused on integrated health care, education, and research, says trans fat is considered the worst type of fat to eat.

“Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats — also called trans-fatty acids — raise “bad” cholesterol and also lowers “good” cholesterol.

“A diet laden with trans fats increases the risk of heart disease, the leading killer of adults. The more trans fats eaten, the greater the risk of heart and blood vessel disease,” the clinic noted.

Continuing, the don said, “Because the body cannot handle them, they are the ones that normally form plagues or deposits along the arteries.

“Sometimes, they form these plagues along some of the organs. So, you find out that these trans fats are more deadly than saturated fatty acids.

“Most of the saturated acids themselves lead to deposition of fats in the tissues. This leads to a build-up of pressure on the arteries and veins.

“They deposit fats inside the arteries where blood passes through and sometimes, outside the arteries. “

Prof. Onimawo said that the build of fats around and inside the blood vessels could lead to hypertension.

“They (trans fatty acids) hardened the arteries which are supposed to be flexible. So, when the plagues are there, that particular blood vessel becomes non-flexible.”

“And therefore, when it is not flexible, it cannot expand to accommodate

pressure and if that happens continuously, the blood pressure begins to increase and sometimes, that is the origin of high blood pressure.

“If this continues, you know that high blood pressure is a precursor to a lot of things that have to do with heart disease,” the nutritionist noted.

The World Health Organisation says there is evidence that heating and frying oil at high temperatures leads to an increase in trans fat concentrations.

According to the WHO, trans fat increases the risk of heart disease and death from heart disease by 28 per cent.

“On average, the level of trans fat has been found to increase by 3.67 g/100g after heating, and by 3.57 g/100g after frying.

“Approximately 540,000 deaths each year can be attributed to the intake of industrially produced trans-fatty acids.

“High trans fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34 per cent, coronary heart disease deaths by 28 per cent and coronary heart disease by 21 per cent.

“This is likely due to the effect on lipid levels: trans fat increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Trans fat has no known health benefits,” WHO said.

SURVIVING DIABETES

SURVIVING DIABETES

SURVIVING DIABETES

By DR ZUBAIR ABDULAHI AND NJIDEKA AGBO

For a long time, Mr Apokwo, a native of Ezeagu community in Enugu, a state in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, thought that his frequent urination was because he took Agbo – the traditional herbal mixture or concoction believed to contain potent herbs that are capable of treating different ailments.

Like the average Nigerian and their preference for staple food, he continued to indulge in starchy foods.

A few weeks before this revelation to Guardian Life, the attendant at the chemist shop had told him that his bouts of fatigue, weight loss and constant urination were nothing but signs of the twin devils of “typhoid and malaria”, and gave him medications for them. The sharp pain and sudden swelling he had in his flank, leading down into his groin, prompted his wife to take him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure – one of the complications of poorly managed diabetes. 

“Not only is diabetes an ailment with a lot of long-term complications, but it can also actually kill in the short-term if not properly managed,” an endocrinologist in a Nigerian teaching hospital who preferred to be unnamed told Guardian Life. While it is well known that rapid increases in blood sugar over a short time can lead to immediate death, long-term uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to blindness, heart and kidney disease as well as diabetic foot disease. 

Globally, diabetes is one of the 10 leading causes of death. According to the International Diabetic Federation (IDF), Nigeria has the highest occurrence of diabetes sufferers and people with impaired fasting glucose in Africa. In 2020, a meta-analysis reported that approximately 5.8% (about 6 million) of adult Nigerians are suffering from diabetes. Like other middle and low-income countries, two-thirds of those with diabetes are undiagnosed.

Diabetes is a lifelong disease in which the body cannot produce enough insulin. In some other cases, it cannot use the insulin it produces. In both instances, this leaves the affected person with an excess amount of sugar or glucose in the body, which is then ferried around in the blood, capable of causing damage to all the tissues and organs of the body. Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage and controlled release of glucose in the blood. Sugar is transported into the muscles and fat cells with the help of insulin for use as energy. Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood, which over time can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. 

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  •         increased thirst and urination
  •         increased hunger
  •         fatigue
  •         blurred vision
  •         numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  •         sores that do not heal
  •         unexplained weight loss

There isn’t a cure for diabetes yet, although there are promising discoveries, none of these have been shown to be of practical use at the moment. What this means is that diabetes is required to be closely controlled and managed. There are medications to help maintain the blood sugar at an appropriate level and there are other options for maintaining a decent blood sugar level, including healthy lifestyle habits like proper dietary intake and exercise.

The development

Diabetes is of two main types, aptly called type 1 and type 2. In addition, diabetes may develop in pregnant women and that is known as gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, what occurs is, the body’s immune cells attack the organ that produces insulin. The reason for this is unknown. This inability to produce enough insulin for its usage leads to high sugar levels in the blood, called diabetes. 

“Due to attacks on the organ responsible for producing insulin, called the pancreas, by soldiers in the body that normally fights infections, called immune cells, not enough insulin is produced for the body’s use”. This means that people with type 1 diabetes often find out very early in life. In contrast, type 2 diabetes tends to develop much later in life and is thought to develop from the body’s resistance to the action of insulin. Simply put, there is enough insulin, but its effectiveness wanes as time progresses, leading to excess sugar, which can be harmful to the body. While type 1 diabetes is typically due to some problems with the internal workings of the body, type 2 diabetes is usually because of lifestyle habits and some risk factors, like obesity, being black or having other illnesses like poorly controlled blood pressure or cholesterol levels. 

A common topic of discourse is the role of carbonated drinks and sugar in the development of diabetes. Large-scale research shows that regular consumption of sugary drinks, including cola, lemonade and energy drinks, raises the risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For people with an existing risk, it appears the increased intake of sugars increases their risk of developing diabetes. As such, it is recommended that not over 10% of energy each day comes from sugars. This equates to 70g or less of sugar for men and 50g or less for women.

Alternative therapy

Nigerians are no strangers to herbal medicine. In a country where the rural population was put at 48.04% in 2020, the resort to herbal medicine is largely relied upon. More so, while access to standard healthcare has been a plaguing problem across the country, Nigerians are finding alternatives to it.  

Despite the calls to ban the selling of Agbo from the roadside hawkers by the Herbs Sellers Association of Nigeria, Agbo continues to be very popular. A few concerns are surrounding this recommendation. In recent times, there have been rising allegations that medications such as paracetamol have been used to adulterate the mixture to varying extents, for a myriad of reasons. Highlighting the dangers of using this concoction, medical experts expressed that its long-term use can lead to kidney and liver damage because of the toxic levels of medications and the herbal components of the concoctions. 

Regarding diabetes treatment, Agbo is not the only source that Nigerians have opted for. Mrs Shola, a retired nurse, is convinced that bitter leaf is a potent resource in managing blood sugar. Her husband, a diabetic patient, has been managed using bitter leaf for years with great results. What she has done is to add bitter leaf water to his daily routine, requiring him to consume it at specific periods and with few side effects. According to her, bitter leaf is not only effective in the present time but had been used in previous generations across the world to aid in the alleviation of diabetes. To buttress this, a paper in the Medical Journal of Islamic World Academy of Sciences surmises that bitter leaf has properties that not only reduce sugar levels but heal the pancreas.

 The medical consultant who spoke to Guardian Life opines that while it is true that it has some beneficial effects in managing diabetes, the belief that it can solely treat diabetes should be neglected. “We may be right about the use of herbal concoctions, but until universal medical practice conducts some research and says that its use is consistent with the regulation of blood sugar, it should not be recognised as the sole treatment for diabetes,” she says.

Dr Ruth Uzo, a certified nephrology nurse and a deputy director at the Enugu State Teaching Hospital, says that bitter leaf is a brilliant source. “If they drink it in the morning, it prevents it from getting worse. Bitter leaf and Agbo cannot do everything, however. They need to see an endocrine specialist in the hospital. What we are running from is complications of diabetes because it affects the nerves, the organs, and every part of the body. I will also advise such people to use Moringa.”

Activity 

For people living with diabetes, one of the symptoms is fatigue, a direct/ironic contrast to exercise. Dr Uzo notes it is a necessity. “They can take a walk, perform indoor exercises; lie on the bed, straighten their legs, do pace exercise or brisk walking, just to ensure some form of activity for around 30 minutes per day or 180 minutes over the course of a week. The idea is for them to be fit and retrain their bodies to use sugar effectively.”

Although this may seem tasking, it has been shown to be very helpful in helping curb outrageous increases in blood sugar over time.

The Diet

One of the horrors of living with diabetes is the eventual cause of premature death if caution is thrown to the wind, a fear that caused Mr and Mrs Augusta to change their diet. As a rule, people diagnosed with diabetes should have a higher concentration of protein, vitamins, vegetables and fibre-rich foods compared to starchy foods or carbohydrates, as there is little to no insulin to break it down. It is, however, important to note that avoiding carbohydrates in its entirety or filling up on other food classes may be detrimental. The primary goal with dieting in diabetes is with portion control, which enables one to “use” up the resources available from food before the next meal, to prevent excesses. Exercise is also one of the healthy lifestyles that a diabetic will have to adopt.

“Do you know that most of these starchy foods like garri is not too good for a prediabetic or someone that has already been diagnosed?” she chips in.

Healthy foods

In collaboration with a dietician, Guardian Life wrote about foods that diabetics can eat.  

Here’s a list of healthy local foods which can be enjoyed on a diabetic menu:

  •         Nigerian soups: Vegetable soup, Okra soup, Edikan Ikong, Waterleaf soup, Ogbono soup, Egusi soup, Afang soup
  •         Staple foods (swallow): Wheatmeal fufu, Guinea corn fufu, Unripe plantain fufu
  •         Stews and sauces: Tomato stew, Garden egg stew, Shredded chicken sauce, Shrimp sauce, Fresh Fish sauce or stew, Smoked fish sauce 
  •         Low-carb meals: Brown basmati rice and stew, Unripe plantain porridge, Moi Moi, Boiled plantain with stew, Roasted plantain with fish sauce, Plantain with beans porridge, Beans and whole wheat bread 
  •         Healthy snacks: Garden eggs with peanut butter, Coconuts, Boiled groundnuts, Akara balls, Tiger nuts, Nigerian pear 
  •         Comfort foods: Isi ewu, Nkwobi, Cow leg, Cow tongue, Fish pepper soup, Chicken pepper soup, Snail pepper soup, Peppered snail, Liver sauce, Gizzard pepper soup
  •         Healthy drinks: Zobo without sweeteners, Guinea corn (Dawa) kunu, Millet (joro) kunu, Unsweetened yoghurt
THE HEALTH RISKS OF SMOKING

THE HEALTH RISKS OF SMOKING

THE HEALTH RISKS OF SMOKING

There are an estimated 6.9 million cigarette smokers in the UK[i], despite the dozens of health risks that smoking presents. It’s something that many people pick up as a habit when they are young, and quickly become addicted to it. Although education surrounding the risks of smoking has become much better in recent years, there is still a long way to go in the battle to stop smoking across the population, for good.

The effects of smoking on the body

The typical risk that most people associate with smoking is lung cancer or lung disease. However, the risks of smoking extend to other areas of the body – causing diseases and conditions which are often not reversible.

CANCERS

The risk of cancer is increased by smoking. Some of these cancers include:

  • Bladder Cancer – a third of all bladder cancer cases are caused by smoking. Symptoms of bladder cancer can include frequency or urge incontinence, blood in the urine, and more.
  • Bowel Cancer – 7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK have a link with smoking. Symptoms can include blood in the stool, sudden weight loss, and eventually may lead to bowel incontinence. Read more about the link between bowel cancer and incontinence.
  • Mouth Cancer – Smokers are 10x more likely to develop oral cancers. Symptoms of oral cancers include pain, growths, and sores.
  • Oesophagus Cancer – 35 in 100 cases of oesophagus cancer are caused by smoking. Symptoms of oesophagus cancer can include difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite/weight loss and pain in the stomach, back, or chest.

DISEASE & CONDITIONS

As well as cancers, the risk of developing different conditions across the body increases when you smoke. Those who smoke are at high risk of heart disease, gum disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and more.

What’s in a cigarette?

Cigarettes contain over 60 chemicals

Most of us are aware of the chemicals that go into cigarettes which make them so harmful. But do you know how harmful these chemicals are and which other household products they are used in? For example, Acetone, which is the main ingredient in nail polish remover, is also found in cigarettes! Other chemicals include:

These chemicals are highly damaging. Below, we explain these chemicals further

  • Formaldehyde – embalming fluid. This is not added to cigarettes but is naturally produced when the components of a cigarette (sugars, cellulose fibres, carob, etc.) are lit and burn together.
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel. This forms a major part of cigarette smoke. The chemical converts to formaldehyde in the liver, which can cause disease.
  • Nicotine – is highly addictive and used as an insecticide. Most cigarettes contain around 10 milligrams of the chemical. It causes your brain to associate smoking with pleasure, which causes addiction.
  • Tar – used for laying roads. This chemical is created by burning cigarettes. It is a cancer-causing chemical that forms a sticky layer inside your lungs, leading to potential damage and disease.
  • Ammonia – a household cleaner. Used as a filler for tobacco, ammonia makes it easier for the body to absorb nicotine.
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison. Although not added to cigarettes directly, it is usually a component of pesticides that are used to grow tobacco.
  • Butane – used in lighter fluid. Butane is used to keep the tip of a cigarette burning. It is highly toxic.
  • Cadmium – active component in battery acid. This is another chemical that is used in pesticides which are used when farming tobacco. It causes oxidative damage to molecules within the body.
  • Carbon monoxide – is released when cigarettes are lit and burned. Each cigarette produces 5 – 20.2mg of carbon monoxide. It is a toxic gas that replaces oxygen and can prevent your lungs and heart from working properly.
  • Lead – a harmful compound used in batteries. This is one of many metals that are present in cigarettes. Lead deposits can accumulate in the lungs and build up in your airways.

Have smoking laws been effective?

Over the past couple of decades, laws and legislation have been put in place to reduce the number of smokers in the UK. The data so far shows that these have had varying levels of success, with the number of people smoking having reduced significantly compared to 2011.

Since 2011, the prevalence of smokers has decreased greatly.

The proportion of smokers in the UK has fallen massively since 2011 and is predicted to keep dropping at a steady rate.

2007 – The UK Smoking Ban was rolled out, banning smoking in enclosed public spaces. Smoking age rose to 18

2008 – Cigarette packaging started carrying picture warnings

2011 – Tobacco vending machines banned in the UK

2014 – Legislation changes so picture warnings must cover 65% of cigarette packaging

Packs of less than 20 cigarettes prohibited from sale

2015 – Standardised cigarette packaging was introduced

Smoking in a car with a child present was made illegal

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Smoking is an addiction, and quitting can be very difficult – especially for those who have been smoking for many years. As well as the physical addition to nicotine in the cigarettes, the physical habit of smoking is something which is notoriously hard to break.

Remember that you don’t need to struggle in silence on your journey to quitting smoking……..

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