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Yosi kadiri!

Did you know that smoking alters natural breathing? Perhaps you are aware of the proper breathing habit. Inhaling is done through the nose while exhaling goes through the mouth. In contrast, smokers are compelled to breathe through the mouth and exhale through the nose. That leaves you with respiratory disturbance, not to mention the unsightly gaps in between teeth. Unfortunately, there are bigger health concerns involved in cigarette use.

More than the act of smoking, the object itself holds greater health risks. The cigarette piece is stuffed with toxic substances such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar, and various particulates. These harmful constituents can trigger serious diseases affecting cardiovascular, cerebral, pulmonary, and reproductive health. Worst, it can also lead to many different types of cancer.

Pulmonary diseases are the most popular health complications of cigarette smoking. In particular, it can cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. The pulmonary disorder is characterized by the inflammation of lungs attributed to constant exposure on harmful gas and particulates. Such disease may also be coupled by bronchitis, emphysema, and many other lung problems.

Too much smoking can cause cardiovascular diseases, too. That is no health fiction! The fact of the matter is smoking instils nicotine into the system. This sort of substance can elicit constriction of arteries. In turn, blood circulation is disturbed along the process thereby giving rise to hypertension. You can also expect rapid heart palpitation as the heart works double time to pump sufficient amount of blood in circulation.

What is even more alarming is that smoking can pull the trigger. Yes, it can lead to the most dreaded condition, perhaps in the likes of cerebral thrombosis. Also known as brain stroke, the condition manifests upon the blockage of carotid artery. In case you have not heard yet, excessive smoking thickens the blood hence the likelihood to develop blood clotting. That can ultimately lead to artery obstruction. Besides, the unlikely habit can directly harm the artery linings due to extreme accumulation of fats.

Another dreadful illness brought about by smoking is cancer. You heard me right! In fact, the cigarette substance called tar can bring you more than the dread of lung cancer. To tell you honestly, this carcinogen can cause a variety of cellular malformations specifically on oesophagus, larynx, oral cavity, tongue, etc. Smoking also happens to be a contributory factor on many other circumstances of cancer, for instance, on the bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, and the like.
As much as cigarette smoking can bring you severe illnesses, it can also harm your reproductive system. The smoking habit can even set off impotence as well as erectile dysfunction on men. That is ascribed to poor blood circulation hindering blood supply to the male reproductive organ. In the same way, smoking can also trigger infertility to women due to low quality embryo.

No doubt, there is no other way to get rid of these awful diseases but to quit smoking! Quitting does not come easy, though. Smoking can develop into an addiction given the nicotine content. Nonetheless, you can always get big a sigh of relief by ending the curse of this unlikely vice. Luckily, there are many smoking treatments and alternatives available.

Simple everyday work-outs

Finding time to work-out and having the motivation to work-out are two of the biggest obstacles that prevent regular working guys and girls, like me and you, from getting to the physical fitness level they desire. The job usually gobbles up most of the hours of the day and most of the energy too. Once the energy is sapped out, it usually takes the motivation and the excitement to exercise along with it. This leads to the work-out getting postponed for tomorrow, and then the day after, then the day after that, until the workout pretty much never gets done. A few months later, you realize you’re already way too out of shape and you try to get on a crash diet or work-out program of some sort to get back what you lost all these months.

This is usually the cycle that happens. But it is by no means the norm that should be followed. Going on crash work-outs are almost never good for your body. It puts too much strain on your muscles and on your cardio vascular system too. The better way to overcome the obstacles regarding time and motivation is to integrate your workout into your everyday routine. This would ensure that you would have enough energy for the work-out because you haven’t spent it all at your job yet. At the same time, you would not need to really motivate yourself to do the work-out because you’re not doing it just to work-out; you are doing it as part of doing your daily routine.

The easiest exercise that you can integrate into your routine is walking. If you commute to and from your job, all you have to do is get off the jeep several hundred meters (a kilometer would be even better) from where you used to get off. This would allow you to get some much needed exercise while you walk and it would also help you save a peso or two on your fare (is that great or what?). An alternative to this is to get yourself a bike and to forego riding the jeep altogether. Biking, just like walking, is a great everyday work-out.

If you have a car and drive to work, you can get some walking exercise in by parking farther away than you used to. If you can’t, you can always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking up the stairs is much better than walking on a straight path. It provides much more resistance, thus it forces you to use more effort.

Another exercise you can do without having to allot a specific portion of your day to it is stretching. Yes, stretching IS an exercise! It is not just a warm up thing. Stretching gives your body a lot of benefits: it “wakes” your muscles without having to put them through a lot of stress, it helps your muscles grow and lengthen, and it helps you become more limber and agile too. Best of all, you can do some stretching wherever you are and whatever time you feel like it. You probably stretch in the morning when you wake up without even knowing it. You can stretch at work by simply standing up from your chair and reaching for your toes. This is great exercise for your legs and for your back as well.
Actually, just standing up from your chair is already a great exercise. Standing up and sitting down in succession for several repetitions is practically doing squats. To get in some work-out for your arms, try raising them in front of you or to your sides as you get up from your chair.

Whatever you choose to do, the important thing for you to remember is that you have to keep yourself active everyday. You will benefit a lot more from a little exercise everyday than from a lot of exercise done altogether just once a week.

Filipino smokers now 17M

Cigarette smoking in the Philippines is a very big issue that really needs to be addressed. In 2009, a study made by the GATS or the Global Adult Tobacco Survey showed that almost 23% of adult Filipinos are active smokers. In other words, almost 14 million Filipinos consume an average of 10-11 cigarettes each day. This amounts to an average expenditure of about 600.00 pesos per person per month at the current cost of cigarettes which is at 2.00 pesos per stick.

But these are only the persons who smoke daily. In total, i.e. counting even those who smoke regularly but not daily, the number goes up to almost 17.5 million Filipinos who indulge in this vice. That is a staggering 28% of Filipino adults. The study also points out that almost half of the population of adult men smoke (48%), while only a tenth of adult women do (9%).

Most surprising though, is that these smokers continue their vice even though they, and the rest of the Philippine population know about all the ill effects that this vice brings.

This begs the question: why do they still smoke?

Well, I guess the answer is obvious. Almost everybody knows about the ill effects of smoking but very few have actually seen or experienced these unpleasant consequences. The smokers know that smoking can cause cancer, but it does not necessarily cause cancer. It will not surely cause cancer, it just can cause cancer. They are willing to take their chances, especially since the odds are not particularly stacked against them. Just think about it. Ask yourself: How many people do you know smoke? How many of them do you know died of lung cancer or even just contracted cancer? I’m pretty sure those who smoke and are still alive far outnumber those who smoke and died of lung cancer.

This is why all the warning labels, even those with very graphic photos, will not do much to curb smoking in the Philippines or any other country for that matter. The smoker will see the graphic, realize that it can happen, but will never think that it will happen to him. It can happen, but it will probably happen to someone else.

Wouldn’t it be more effective to increase the taxes on cigarettes? The Department of Health is pushing for a 400% increase in the taxes pegged on cigarettes. This would translate to pushing the prices up on cigarettes from the currently affordable P2.00 to a more prohibitive P7.00. This should be very effective in curbing cigarette smoking among the 15-20 year old smokers who make up almost 20% of the smoking population in the Philippines.

Price is very important. Even the tobacco companies themselves know this. In 2009, all the top brands (Fortune at 33% and Marlboro at 19%) came up with the idea to make their cigarettes available in 5 and 10 piece packs. This proved to be very effective as it was able to sustain the sales of both brands. The effectiveness of this strategy was credited to it being able to provide smokers a chance to get their favorite cigarettes without forcing them to come up with a big cash outlay. Thus, common sense would dictate that to discourage people from buying cigarettes, make it so that they would have to lay out a fairly large amount of cash to purchase them.

Another effective anti smoking measure would be to make purchasing cigarettes a little bit more difficult. In the study made by the GATS, almost all of the respondents said that they were able to purchase their cigarettes in nearby outlets. This means that it is very convenient to buy cigarettes. If it is easily available, then it can’t possibly be bad right?

However, if it takes a lot of effort just to get a stick of cigarette, then it might be bad, somehow. At the very least it would give them a very practical reason not to smoke, especially if they are just going to buy 1 or a few sticks.

Cancer is preventable

Whenever I hear the word cancer oftentimes I feel some chills. Though I hear it and read about it many times it still sounds alien for some reasons. I know of some people who have died because of it. My former accountant and a very good friend of my sibling had a couple of chemo sessions but unfortunately was not able to survive.

I know of lung cancer, breast cancer, and then prostate, then that is it. I suppose I am also not that well-informed about cancer like most Filipinos. So I Google “cancer” and Wikipedia gave lots of basic and important information.

Cancer is 90-95% caused by environmental factors and 5-10% due to hereditary genetics. The first one has a staggering percentage so I decided to read further about it; and the second sounds too complicated. =)

These environmental factors include tobacco smoking (25-30%), poor diet that leads to obesity and other diseases (30-35%), infections (15-20%), radiation (10%), lack of regular exercise, pollution, and even stress.

Tobacco is one of the components of most manufactured cigarettes. So if you are smoking cigarettes you are smoking tobacco. We Filipinos love to eat. But I don’t know exactly which foods may cause cancer. I remember a tomato sauce brand claiming prevention of cancer if consumed regularly. Infections are due to bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms. Radiation is another complex topic. I need to make more research on these causes.

So if I don’t smoke, if I eat nutritious foods, and do regular physical activities then there should be less chance for me to get cancer? It should. But of course this is easier said than done especially the eating part. Because of the numerous gatherings and events Filipinos love to celebrate we become careless. But most importantly, it’s what we do every day. It is what we consume every day. So the best time to start preventing cancer is now. And the best way is to always educate yourself and your loved ones.

I shall write more about cancer on the next coming posts. Please feel free to share your thoughts.