The Health 'Benefits' of Smoking?

I had a major disagreement with a medical colleague recently.

He was stressed out big time and puffed on an endless supply of cigarettes. He knew that I'm a non smoker and hate smoke near me. But he continued to puff. As I moved away he growled at me: "Don’t you know the benefits of smoking?"


Surprised, I stopped.

Then he launched into a justification of how smoking has benefits, and how smokers are uniquely protected against certain diseases and afflictions.  He even supported his view with what seemed like 'proof'.

Sure I was curious, though doubtful.

After I ‘escaped’ I researched the four health benefits he claimed smoking delivers. I thought you may be interested in my findings.

1. Smoking lowers the risk of knee replacement surgery

Surprising results from a study published in the Journal Arthritis & Rheumatism reveal that men who smoke had less risk of undergoing total joint replacement surgery than those who never smoked. Further, men who had smoked for more than 48 years were up to 51% less likely to have undergone total joint replacements of their knees and hips than men who had never smoked.

How come?

Well, the study authors don’t really give an explanation! One of the professors says: “Other studies have drawn links between smoking and increases in cartilage volume, and more work needs to be done in this area.”

Perhaps the nicotine in tobacco helps prevent cartilage and joint deterioration?

At least Professor Ryan has the sense to comment: “Despite these findings, the fact remains that any possible beneficial effect of smoking on osteoarthritis is far outweighed by other health risks”.

2. Smoking lowers risk of Parkinson's disease

Numerous studies, including from Harvard have identified how long-term smokers are protected against Parkinson's. Also, in the 2010 Journal Neurology, researchers found that the number of years smoking had more of a protective effect than the number of cigarettes smoked daily.

The researchers concluded, in their special scientific way that they didn't have a clue as to why!

At least the Harvard experts offered some explanation and cautions: “It is not our intent to promote smoking as a protective measure against Parkinson's disease. Obviously smoking has a multitude of negative consequences. Rather, we did this study to try to encourage other consider the possibility that neuroprotective chemicals may be present in tobacco leaves."

3. Smoking lowers the risk of obesity

Smoking, particularly the nicotine in tobacco smoke, is both a stimulant and an appetite suppressant.     This has been known for centuries, dating back to indigenous cultures in pre-Columbus America. By the 1920’s, profit hungry Tobacco companies began targeting women with the lure that smoking would make them thinner.

Indeed, I’m sure we all know someone who keeps smoking because they are afraid of the weight gain once they stop.

As an appetite suppressant, nicotine appears to act on a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, at least in mice, as revealed in a 2011 study by Yale researchers

While no respectable doctor would recommend smoking for weight control, the Yale study shows hope for a safe diet drug to help obese people control their appetites. Study author Professor Marina Picciotto says: “I'm hopeful that we'll be able to make medications based on these nicotine receptors that could be helpful in controlling appetite."

4. Smoking helps the heart drug clopidogrel work better

Clopidogrel is a drug to prevent blood clots from leading to strokes and heart attacks. A 2010 study by Korean researchers builds upon work by Harvard researchers published in 2009 that demonstrates the benefit of smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day.

It seems that something in cigarette smoke activates certain proteins called cytochromes, which convert clopidogrel into a more effective active state.

Of course, no respectable doctor would encourage patients to start smoking to benefit from clopidogrel.

But this and the other three "benefits" of smoking reveal how tobacco, perhaps not unlike other potentially toxic plants, might contain natural elements of real therapeutic value when used sensibly. Please Click HERE if you wish to explore this thought further.

A silver lining in otherwise blackened lungs perhaps!

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