Well, let's hit right off the bat with a most controversial of topics! Smoking.
I first started when I was 16 all those many moons ago. I loved it! There was nothing I enjoyed more than relaxing with a "cigarette" after a good days skateboarding. It chilled me out and gave me time to reflect upon the day's session. It quickly became a part of my life, as it does with most people I suppose, it been oh so addictive and bad for us... Who doesn't like things that are bad for us?
I'm not going to go too much into the wonders of tobacco and smoking yet. I would, however, like to give a little overview of some beneficial effects of smoking. I guess it's the start of my objective jaunt into the world. So we are all well aware of the negative effects of tobacco smoking, so I won't list them here but how does it fair towards possibly having a benefit?
1. Lower Risk of need for knee-replacements
According to an Australian study done in 2012 Men who smoked were at less risk of Total Joint Replacement (TJR) surgery. Their conclusions strongly implicated smoking as a protective factor for TJR. They also suggested this relates to experimental data that nicotine promotes proliferation and collagen synthesis in chondrocytes. I've however yet to look into that as I've no idea what chondrocytes actually are!
2. Weight Loss
One of the more well-known benefits of tobacco smoking or nicotine, in general, is the suppression of the bodies appetite and overall desire to eat for brief periods of time. In lab tests on mice, nicotine was shown to affect the hypothalamus which is directly in control of things like thirst, hunger, sleep and mood so it's not really surprising it acts as an appetite suppressant.
Been carcinogenic this shocked me quite a bit upon reading some of the information surrounding it. I thought carcinogenic things lead to inflammation but no, not nicotine! It has an anti-inflammatory effect in the cells of both nervous system and immune system. Nicotine binds to a7 nAChr which activates a system known as the 'cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway', which is responsible for decreasing inflammation in the body. Making nicotine actually anti-inflammatory.
Smoking may actually affect the brain similar to the way some anti-depressants work. This is purported to work via Mono amine oxidase inhibitors or MAOI. MAOI was developed by pharmaceutical companies in the late 1950's as anti-depressants. Monoamine oxidases (MAO's) are enzymes in the body responsible for degrading neurotransmitters such as Noradrenaline, Serotonin and Dopamine. MAOI's are chemicals that inhibit the action of these enzymes. Funnily enough, these MAOI's have been shown to naturally occur in tobacco smoke. Numerous studies have demonstrated that smokers have lower levels of both types of MAO's (A and B), so it would suggest that smoking acts as a natural anti-depressant.
5. Live Longer?
I'm not suggesting it's a benefit as heck smokers die just as young as anyone else statistically. However, some of the worlds oldest survivors have smoked throughout their lives. Some even suggest it as a secret to their good health. I find this utterly amazing with the amount of information against tobacco, you would have thought if it was so bad that no smoker would live very long. Bravo to each and every one of these people.
Jose Agnuinelo dos Santos - A Brazilian Man whose parents were African slaves. Born on July 7th, 1888. Joe smoked a pack of cigarettes every single day for the past 50 years.
Winnie Langley - Dubbed Britain's oldest smoker born in Croydon in 1907. Winnie sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 102 but continued smoking up until that end.
Sek Yi - Martial arts expert who is believed to be born in 1881. Died in his sleep at the ripe old age of 122 according to his relatives. No confirmation on his age has been made from what I could find.
Mme Jeanne Calment - Listed as the world's oldest human whose birth date could be certified, died at the age of 122. There is a quote from Jeanne that I absolutely love which she told to her doctor: "Once you've lived as long as me, only then can you tell me not to smoke." According to reports, she stopped smoking around 117 but still a long lived smoker!
So there you have a very small start to the benefits of tobacco. I just want to add I am not suggesting anything by this article and It is certainly not medical advice either. It's interesting stuff though, and I hope to get more into the nitty gritty of the subject of tobacco in future articles as it's a subject I find interesting. The psychology surrounding it even more so. Anyway, all for a future post and thank you for taking the time to read.