Does Smoking Cigarettes Stunt your Growth?

Smoking is injurious to health is a much used and abused disclaimer. Even the stomach churning imagery of cancerous consequences on the packet do not seem to deter people. The age at which people start smoking or start experimenting with cigarettes has lowered. Unfortunately, even under age kids seem to have shared a puff or two. The effect of smoking is more visible in children particularly adolescents. Something, not many people are aware of, is its harmful affect on one’s height.

Growth of height depends on a person genes followed by his/her diet and exercises for height growth. Anything that works as an obstacle to any of these factors will inhibit the proper growth. Smoking not only stunts a person’s lungs but also the height. This means the chances of a teenager improving his/her height is very less if he/she has started smoking. It may occur to us that cigarette is tobacco wrapped in a paper but when it burns it releases 5000 different kinds of chemical. Tobacco smoke contains over 60 cancer-causing chemicals from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide. Smoking harms every organ, every cell of the body and has a direct influence on how you look. The most damaging components of tobacco smoke, which results in stunted growth is carbon monoxide.

A poisonous, colourless, odorless gas, produced due to the incomplete burning of carbon, can be fatal in large amount. When Carbon Monoxide is breathed into the lungs, it makes carboxyhemoglobin by binding with hemoglobin in the blood. Carbon Monoxide is much faster in binding with hemoglobin, which diminishes the oxygen carrying capacity in the bloodstream. As quickly as it connects and binds with hemoglobin, Carbon Monoxide is slow to exit the body. It takes as much as a day to be exhaled through the lungs. As a result, the blood has lower concentration of oxygen and other vitamins and minerals required to repair body tissues. Hence the body, which needs certain amount of protein and other nutrients for proper growth and development, will be devoid of important nutrients. It affects the main functions of the body and results in stunted growth.

The normal level of carboxyhemoglobin in the bloodstream from environmental exposure is less than 1%. For people who smoke, depending on the brand of cigarette, number of cigarettes and the interval between the two cigarettes, can shoot up the amount of carboxyhemoglobin. The increase in Carbon Monoxide in the bloodstream can cause increased heart rate, reduced tolerance for exercise and headache. Lack of oxygen forces the heart to work harder to distribute oxygen around the body. Unable to do so, the body feels tired and the lack of proper exercise results in stunted growth. For our bones to grow strong, calcium is a vital component. Inside the bones, a constant renewal process goes on. Mineral and calcium gets deposited in the framework of the bones. Calcium determines the strength of the bones. Vitamin d helps absorbs calcium, but smoking interferes with the way body uses Vitamin D and reduces the amount of calcium absorbed by the bones. Smoking during bone-building years lowers the density of our bones thus resulting in stunted growth and increased risk of fracture. Moreover, this lack of oxygen makes carbon monoxide dominant in the blood stream causing various heart diseases including heart attack. With the increased level of Carbon Monoxide in the body, one experiences dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation, thus affecting the entire immune system of the body. All of these symptoms refrain the body from being actively involved in fitness regime. Smoking causes a considerable dip in the person’s performance and endurance, thus affecting their fitness regime. Smoking at an early age results in shortness of breath.

Smoking also results in lower amount of testosterone. Testosterone, in body, is responsible for building muscles and burning fat. It is also involved in growth and development of the tissues. Smoking can be detrimental for bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and bone fractures later in life as the level of testosterone drops.

Smoking doesn’t have any direct impact on pituitary gland, which is responsible for the secretion of growth hormone. However, smoking affects the overall functioning of the body, which in turn slows the growth and development of body and height. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to smoke. Smoking never had any advantage ever. In fact, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of non-smokers. Even if one happens to survive a long time, it won’t be a healthy one. Fortunately, quitting smoking can reverse many effects.


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