VANCOUVER, B.C. – With National Non-Smoking Week upon us this campaign reminds us of the importance and benefits to quitting smoking for your health.
In speaking with Dr. Renelle Myers, Thoracic Interventional Respirologist at BC Cancer, our conversation was a better understanding of why it is important to not smoke, how you can have success in removing cigarettes from your life and why inhaling combustibles are bad for your lungs.
Dr. Myers shares it is never too late to quit smoking. The process of inhaling from a lit cigarette is drawing combustibles which are made of 7000 different chemicals and compounds while being burned.
Your lungs and airways are lined with tiny brush like hairs, called cilia. Cilia protect the lungs from the environment we breathe in by sweeping out mucus and dirt so your lungs stay clear. One cigarette a day impairs the cilia shared Dr. Myers as the contents of the cigarette temporarily paralyzes and even kills cilia preventing them from doing their job.
When you stop smoking it takes 48 hours for the cilia to go back to their working function and once again begin to clear the lungs. Although cilia have the ability to heal themselves smoking does destroy lung tissue. Dr. Myers shares that on CT Scans you can see that lung tissue will be missing from the lungs of someone that smokes.
Dr. Myers goes on to say, for people to be successful in their action to stop smoking they should not go cold turkey. By using pharmaceutical therapies such as a nicotine replacement patch, inhaler, spray or even Champax are an asset. The action of smoking cigarettes is a delivery system to receive nicotine. This creates receptors in the brain that seek nicotine infusions, the longer you smoke the more receptors you will have. When these receptors need to be balanced by using a nicotine replacement by patch or medicine this fills and binds the receptors so you don’t feel the craving.
Counselling can also help teach new coping strategies such as lifestyle changes and what other things one can do with themselves when you want to reach for a cigarette. This is also important for the people that choose to smoke at a time of stress.
“The body is quite remarkable in repairing itself,” said Dr. Myers “It is best to not inhale things into your lungs.
Vaping and E-Cigarettes have been used as a way to quit smoking yet have also become extremely attractive to people that had never smoked cigarettes, especially amongst teenagers. Dr. Myers warns that Vape juice contains Propylene glycol which is used in making antifreeze.
“People need to understand these are not safe and they are not a healthy alternative,” said Dr. Myers “We don’t know a lot about them as they were non-regulated products and the Federal Government only just introduced laws, as there was no idea what was in them.”
With Cannabis only just becoming legal there were no studies done on its effects to the lungs because it was hard to study. There will be a lot more studies and data in the future shared Dr. Myers at the moment she said “we simply don’t know, yet we know it is not good to inhale combustibles”
In our environment, we are already exposed to air pollution and particulate that our lungs filter which is hard to control, what we can control is what we put into our bodies, shared Dr. Myers.