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How smoking can deplete your medical aid benefits

  •   by Medihelp
  •   16 May 2016
  •   734 view(s)
Smokers are more likely to have ongoing health problems. As a result, they are also more likely to deplete their medical aid benefits than healthier, non-smoking members.

Smoking is linked to an array of serious illnesses, including the following:

Cardiovascular disease
Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart or blood vessels) because it damages the lining of the arteries which causes cholesterol and other fats to deposit in the arteries, forming plaques which leave the arteries narrow, blocked or rigid. This can occur in any of the body’s arteries, from the legs to the heart or the brain, and is known as atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. 

The progression of atherosclerosis can lead to heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, aortic aneurysm, dementia in older adults and sudden death.

Respiratory diseases
Smoking is a major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - or COPD - which is a condition that includes both chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Smoking also exacerbates asthma symptoms and it may even cause the onset of asthma in some adolescents and adults.

People who smoke are moreover at increased risk for tuberculosis, pneumococcal pneumonia, influenza and other infections typically involving the lungs.

Furthermore, smoking is linked to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a very serious lung disease that results in scarring, thickening and hardening of the lung tissue.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7 000 toxic chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

Smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers, in particular lung cancer, throat and mouth cancer, which rarely affect non-smokers.

The link between smoking and lung cancer is clear:
• 90% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.
• Only 0,5% of people who've never touched a cigarette develop lung cancer.
• One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer.
• The more cigarettes you smoke in a day, and the longer you've smoked, the higher your risk of lung cancer. The risk also increases the deeper you inhale and the earlier in life you start smoking.

If you smoke, the risk of contracting mouth cancer is four times higher than if you don’t smoke. Cancer can start in many areas of the mouth, with the most common being on or underneath the tongue, or on the lips.

Other types of cancer that are more common in smokers are:
• bladder cancer
• cancer of the oesophagus
• cancer of the kidneys
• pancreatic cancer
• cervical cancer

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