How have cigarettes affected your life

The life expectancy of adolescent smokers is reduced by more than 10 years

24.04.2008

If you start smoking at the age of 14 or 15, you may have to expect a life expectancy that is up to 20 years shorter than that of a non-smoker. He will also develop a particularly strong addiction to nicotine because nicotine is nicotine
There are several reasons that the addiction-inducing substance in cigarettes is nicotine:
* Nicotine penetrates the central nervous system (CNS) and is psychoactive.
* The physiological effects of smoking and injected nicotine are identical.
* Nicotine works as a "positive amplifier". Humans (and also animals) add nicotine to themselves in experiments.
* It is easier to get rid of the addictive substance (tobacco abstinence) if nicotine is administered (substituted, i.e. replaced) with medication.
* Smokers tend to adapt their smoking behavior to the different nicotine contents of tobacco products
permanently changes the brain. These are new findings about smoking that were presented at the annual congress of the German Society for PneumologyPneumology
Respiratory and pulmonary medicine (pulmonology) is a branch of internal medicine that deals with the prevention, detection and specialist treatment of diseases of the lungs, bronchi, mediastinum (middle skin) and pleura (pleura and lung).
and respiratory medicine (DGP) were presented in Lübeck.

If you start smoking at the age of 14 or 15, your life expectancy is not only about 10 years less than that of non-smokers, but it may even be shortened by more than 20 years. "Up to now it was the case that smokers had an average life expectancy of 10 years - but as we now know, this only applies to those smokers who only started to use cigarettes in adulthood," explains Prof. Stefan Andreas, chief physician at the pulmonary clinic Immenhausen. This is one of the new findings about smoking that was presented at the annual congress of the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP) in Lübeck. "Nevertheless, smoking is not unusual for many young people and even children," reports Prof. Tobias Welte, Director of the Pneumology Department at the Hannover Medical School. "In Germany, 10 percent of children by the age of 10 already smoke."

Permanent brain changes from nicotine

The earlier you start smoking, the more nicotine-dependent you become. "This is due to the greater neuroplasticity in adolescents, whose brains are still developing," explains Prof. Georg Winterer, Senior Consultant at the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Düsseldorf and scientific coordinator of the DFG priority program Nicotine: Molecular and Physiological Effects in the central nervous system (CNS) of humans. “Anyone who smokes regularly as a teenager or even as a child develops a particularly strong addiction to nicotine. For some, the addiction digs so deeply into the brain that they will never get it out of their heads for the rest of their lives. Quitting smoking is often no longer manageable with a strong will, but medication and behavioral therapies can help. We now also know that nicotine has been shown to change and damage the brain. Many smokers try to relieve stress, a lack of concentration or depression by consuming nicotine. However, the effects achieved by nicotine are only effective for a very short time. In truth and in the long term, the stress tolerance and cognitive performance of those affected with chronic nicotine consumption are getting worse and the risk of depression increases. In fact, smoking cannot reduce stress - that is a real fallacy! Rather, smoking lowers the stress tolerance further and further, so that a vicious circle develops: With every cigarette smoked, smokers become more and more stress-intolerant and become less and less resilient, although they are fatally more and more dependent on cigarettes to treat themselves and somehow life to master. What drives her mentally and of course physically further and further into the misery. "

Quit before a smoker's lung develops

The earlier people start to smoke and the more cigarettes are smoked, the sooner an inflammatory reaction develops in the lungs in life, which, fatally, may initially cause hardly any discomfort and so smolder unnoticed for many years. "At a certain point, however, the inflammatory processes in the lungs can no longer be reversed," warns Welte. “In earlier times, when most people smoked their first cigarette at the age of 20 at the earliest, this was not the case until the age of 40, but nowadays - the more“ pack years ”(number of years in which an average of one cigarette packet per Day was smoked) have accumulated - accordingly occur at an age of 30 years and over. Then a so-called COPD (smoker's lung) develops with increasing difficulty in breathing, coughing, sputum and other accompanying symptoms such as increased susceptibility to infections, depression and systemic effects on other body organs (such as muscle breakdown, osteoporosis, etc.). The progression of this chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is popularly nicknamed smoker's cough, can no longer be stopped - even if you have long since given up smoking. That is why it would be best to stop smoking as soon as possible before COPD develops - but at the latest by the age of 30-35 - and to view smoking as a youthful sin that has been left behind for good, "emphasizes Welte.