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Is smoking bad for blood cholesterol levels?

Smoking is the most important avoidable risk factor, responsible for the death of many people, which not only affects lung integrity but also alters blood cholesterol levels. Smokers are at high risk of certain diseases derived from smoking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), four million tobacco-related deaths occur each year. Chronic bronchitis, emphysema and various types of cancers of the respiratory tract are, as many other diseases caused by tobacco consumption. But how does cigarette affect cholesterol? What is the relationship between smoking and hypercholesterolemia?

smoking is bad for cholesterol

Tobacco effects on blood cholesterol levels

Smoking increases by itself the risk of damaging the cardiovascular system and, together with other factors, the danger is much greater. The mechanism by which these diseases appear or increase is because nicotine increases platelet aggregability, LDL cholesterol “the bad one”, and triglycerides in the blood. This favors the appearance of atherosclerosis, with which the arteries become less flexible and there is the possibility of rupture causing a hemorrhage.

Carbon monoxide in contact with blood hemoglobin hinders oxygenation and, consequently, deprives some organs of oxygen, but also causes platelet aggregation and increases LDL cholesterol. For this reason, smoking light cigarettes does not reduce the risk of illness, as the smoker usually inhales more smoke to compensate for the lower dose of nicotine which will increase the carbon monoxide increasing the problems it causes. Tobacco also stimulates blood clotting with the consequent risk of clots within the bloodstream.

Nicotine is the main cause of addiction. It can, in just 10 seconds, run through the entire human body, and when inhaled or absorbed by the lung, it enters the bloodstream. Nicotine favors coronary spasms because it stimulates the release of two hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline) that can lead to angina. It also increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Smokers tend to suffer more strokes at an earlier age than non-smokers. The incidence of coronary heart disease is threefold. On the other hand, there is four times greater probability in smokers of suffering from periodontal disease.

Together with other risk factors, their consequences multiply. It is more difficult to control hypertension when the person smokes. LDL cholesterol increases in the blood due to smoking, while HDL cholesterol “the good one” decreases. Coronary disease patients who continue to smoke are very likely to fall into a previous disease or have other complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, etc.

As we can see there is a direct relationship between cigarette and hypercholesterolemia, it could be said that both go hand in hand and impair health and quality of life.

Does quitting smoking improves cholesterol?

Some studies show that quitting smoking has a positive effect on cholesterol. With just quitting smoking, the levels of “good” cholesterol are increased and those of “bad” cholesterol can be reduced.

In a large study, with about 1,500 smokers, 334 (36%) had quit smoking at the end of a year. In this group of ex-smokers, good cholesterol increased by 5%, with better results in women.

In contrary to expectations, these quitters did not obtain significant improvements in levels of “bad” cholesterol, however, they suffered an increase in weight of 5 kilograms on average. Since another factor in the increase of “bad” cholesterol is obesity, it seems very likely that if there are benefits in reducing “bad” cholesterol, these can be counteracted by the increase in weight.

So, if you have high cholesterol and are a smoker, seriously plan to quit smoking. Quitting is not easy, many times medical help is required. What is certain is that it is indispensable that the smoker wants to quit. Occasionally, the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are important and nicotine gum and patches are needed.

It is necessary to keep in mind the reason for stopping smoking, to repeat the message that smoking is dangerous to health, not to return to tobacco. To distract oneself in moments of anxiety, eating some fruit or walking are instruments with which to fight. You have to know that tobacco is a drug and that you have an addiction.

Despite the cost, many people daily quit smoking. After only a few days after leaving the tobacco, people begin to notice an improvement, disappear the discomfort such as tiredness, cough, expectoration, stomach discomfort, etc.

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