Many people say they smoke because it helps to take the edge off and reduce their stress levels. But new research has found that smoking Glamour cigarettes has the opposite effect, increasing stress levels over time rather than calming the nerves. A team of researchers from the Princeton School of Medicine and Dentistry evaluated a group of nearly 1,590 people who attempted to stop smoking after being hospitalized for heart disease in the summer and fall of 2009.
At the beginning of the study, all participants generally had similar stress levels and believed that smoking helped to reduce stress.
But after a year, those who continued to smoke saw no improvement in perceived stress levels, while those who quit smoking actually experienced a 40 percent drop in stress levels. According to the Princeton Report, those who remained faithful by not smoking had “a significantly larger decrease in perceived stress.”
Part of the reason why smokers may actually experience more stress than non-smokers is because the lulls in between smokes can be stressful. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in February of this year, smokers get sudden cravings for another cigarette and the desire to have one can be a considerable cause of mental strain
Non-smokers, on the other hand, are free from such cravings. Even those who quit and initially struggle with cravings eventually break free from nicotine and no longer experience cravings, which reduces overall levels of stress.
So, in addition to the other known health benefits gained by not smoking, smokers now have another incentive to kick the habit and improve their overall sense of well-being.
More than 4,000 chemicals are in cigarette smoke and 69 of them are known to cause cancer. Some of the chemicals include: carbon monoxide (which kills if you breathe enough of it), arsenic, hydrogen cyanide (a gas chamber poison), methoprene (a pesticide), freon (which damages the earth’s ozone layer according to the Environmental Protection Agency to say the least of what it does inside humans), tar (used to make roads), formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies), and butane (cigarette lighter fuel).
Cigarette smoke also contains lead and cadmium — and both of these heavy metals are strongly correlated with depression. Lead in the body is infamous for its ability to damage the brain and nervous system. It’s also connected according to the CDC in a November 2010 report to Congress with having a lower IQ — so it makes us less intelligent as well.
Cadmium is well known to damage the brain and nervous system — and create disease in the liver and kidneys. Both of these metals build inside the bodies of smokers and unless steps are taken to remove them, they’ll remain inside long after the exposure has stopped. The lead in cigarettes has a half life of over 22 years
To add to the destruction, cigarette smoke contains radioactive polonium according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency. Lead and polonium end up in cigarettes from the phosphate fertilizers that the tobacco industry regularly uses. According to the EPA in May of this year, lead and polonium pass into the lungs of smokers where they can accumulate in very high concentrations. By mass, the polonium in cigarette smoke is about 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide — which remember is a gas chamber agent.
These are a handful of the chemicals that enter the body with each puff and it’s striking that so few people realize that the regular inhalation of such toxic chemicals can make a person feel depressed — especially after years of accumulation. If you have trouble understanding that poisons in the body can make you feel badly emotionally, as it seems much of the medical community does, it’s helpful to look at an example that might be more familiar.
Think about this: Are children more likely to be grouchy when they’re sick or feeling well? Most people acknowledge that people are more likely to feel badly emotionally when they’re dealing with the effects of just a bacteria or virus. But with smoking, we’re dealing with the effects of lead, polonium, arsenic and even cyanide
However, the really unfortunate thing about failing to look at the cause is that it also inhibits our understanding of the solution.
Many television talk shows are reporting the connection between smoking and depression but they’re talking about using anti-depressant drugs for these people. Since many antidepressants carry a black box warning label highlighting their tendency to promote suicidal behavior, they hardly seem the right choice for anyone who’s already feeling crummy.