Special Report

This Is Exactly What Happens to Your Body Once You Start Smoking

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6. Cataracts develop

“The toxins in cigarette smoke narrow blood vessels, which in turn reduce blood supply to the eyes,” Goldstein said. This is why smoking is a major risk for developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens that affects vision. This is also why smoking is the most controllable risk factor that can lead to macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. “Smoking also increases the risk of glaucoma, especially in people who are diabetic, because of severe inflammation of the eyes,” Goldstein said.

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7. Taste buds become numb

“Smoke numbs your taste buds, so you don’t taste food as much,” Goldstein said. Some studies suggest that smoking can actually permanently kill or significantly damage your sense of taste, at least when it comes to bitter flavors. Taste impairment persisted in former smokers possibly due to bioaccumulation of tobacco toxins and their effect on the body, the researchers suggested.

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8. Blood pressure increases

The buildup of plaque inside the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis, increases your blood pressure, making your heart work harder to pump blood through the veins. The plaque can suddenly rupture, causing a stroke or heart attack.

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9. Heartbeat rises

Smoking causes an abnormal heart rate, even while resting, research has shown. A study subjected about 300 adults between 20 and 29 years of age to a treadmill test. Their heart rate was measured during, at peak and after they stopped running. The smokers — both men and women — had significantly higher heart rates while resting and they did not increase as much as expected while exercising. Women experienced significantly slower heart rate decline during recovery.

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10. Lungs can’t remove toxins

The lungs are lined with small hairs called cilia. Their purpose is to clean the lungs of foreign substances that may harm them, such as toxins from cigarette smoke. However, cigarette smoke contains at least five components that impair the cilia’s defense abilities. Smoking also kills these hairs, leaving the lungs even more susceptible to infections.

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