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Attn: Smokers in the US

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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Dorvan » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:29 am

Our systems aren't as tightly interconnected as you might think. The only system that communicates with any other system in our body is the nervous system, and since that's split off into the sympathetic and parasympathetic, it's simply not possible for cigarettes to be responsible for conditions that are related to the sympathetic AND the parasympathetic nervous system.


I'm not interested in haggling over the definition of communicate when the real question is whether the functioning of one system *affects* the function of another. If my lung capacity is decreased, that affects all of my other systems to varying degrees due to oxygen flow. If my liver function changes, toxins affect all of my other systems in different ways. I my digestive system isn't absorbing nutrients properly, various other systems are affected depending on the specific nutritional deficiencies created.

So yes, the functioning of various systems in our body are closely interconnected in many ways, and to claim otherwise is the height of foolishness.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Dorvan » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:39 am

If your point is "smoking may not be linked to every disease it's ever been claimed to be linked to" then sure...part of the scientific process is that you'll occasionally get false positive results the require further study to clear up.

Bottom line: A smoking habit is terrible for your health, and affects your systems in a number of ways. It's a ripe target for public health improvement because is a voluntary habit with many negative health outcomes, and because trying to get people to avoid a smoking habit is much easier than getting them to break that habit.

Look, I'm not some anti-smoking crusader: I enjoy a cigar or pipe tobacco once or twice a year. I think that trying to prevent people from smoking outdoors in public places is far too nanny state-ish. AT the same thing, I think that anyone with a regular smoking habit who is not actively trying to quit is an idiot. I will defend anyone's right to make their own decisions even if they are idiotic, but I don't feel the slightest obligation to be tactful about my opinion of the habit.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:22 pm

If my lung capacity is decreased, that affects all of my other systems to varying degrees due to oxygen flow.


As lung capacity decreases, respirations increase. The net effect is still the same amount of oxygen flow to your body - as much as it needs.

If my liver function changes, toxins affect all of my other systems in different ways.


Surprisingly, smoking has very little impact on the liver. It filters the toxins from your blood stream just like it's designed to do. Our livers are actually rather impressive little organs. In order for smoking to affect the liver, there has to be an underlying chronic condition such as fatty liver disease (unrelated to smoking), cirrhosis (unrelated to smoking), hepatitis C (again, unrelated to smoking), etc.

I my digestive system isn't absorbing nutrients properly, various other systems are affected depending on the specific nutritional deficiencies created.


Seriously? Malnutrition via cigarette smoking? That's so far outside the realm of possibility it astounds me. It's true that cigarettes depress the autonomic nervous system (I got tired of typing the word "parasympathetic" - it's the same thing), but they are a mild enough stimulant that it's not going to cause any sort of malnutrition. If you're not getting the proper nutrients, it's because your diet is off - and NOT because you smoke.

So yes, the functioning of various systems in our body are closely interconnected in many ways, and to claim otherwise is the height of foolishness.


Not really. Our bodies are factories. We take in raw materials and process them into an end product - in this case, oxygen and nutrients are the raw materials and energy and waste are the end products. An entire assembly line doesn't come grinding to a halt just because a few workers are out sick, so what makes you think our bodies would? If that was the case, then any illness would be life threatening, even something simple like the common cold.

Just because I'm bad at explaining things doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about, Dorvan. It just means I'm bad at explaining things - nothing more, nothing less.

If your point is "smoking may not be linked to every disease it's ever been claimed to be linked to" then sure...part of the scientific process is that you'll occasionally get false positive results the require further study to clear up.


That's my point, yes. That's also the problem - "require further study to clear up". That studying is never done when it comes to cigarettes. Just like the claims that cigarette smoking is linked to gallstones and Crohn's disease, once that link is made (no matter how tenuous), it becomes part of the anti-smoking "canon" if you will, and just gets rubberstamped onto an ever growing and ever more ridiculously long list of maladies that are "caused" by smoking.

Bottom line: A smoking habit is terrible for your health, and affects your systems in a number of ways. It's a ripe target for public health improvement because is a voluntary habit with many negative health outcomes, and because trying to get people to avoid a smoking habit is much easier than getting them to break that habit.


Bottom line: Smoking is not good for your health, but it's not as bad as people say it is. The effects are (mostly) minor and mostly affect people with preexisting conditions or predispositions to certain problems. In an otherwise healthy smoker, the body compensates for the various effects of smoking very well.

The reason smoking is demonized is because it's hard for us to accept that "sometimes, shit just happens". We as a species need to blame something, and cigarettes are a convenient scapegoat. It serves a dual purpose - gives us an explanation as to "why" bad shit happens, and allows us to feel a sense of moral superiority by saying that it's the person's fault for making the choice.

As I said earlier, cigarettes are the "evil eye" or "witchcraft" of the modern age. Something bad happened to someone? Blame cigarettes. It's easier than figuring out the real cause, and easier to accept than just random chance.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:27 pm

You have certainly convinced one person. I don't think you will convince anyone else however, unless you start citing sources. If you did that, it wouldn't matter if you were bad at explaining things. So far all we have from you is, "I have smoked for 30 years, therefore I am impeccably qualified to list facts and debunk others."
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:36 pm

A co-worker looked over my shoulder and immediately recommended this pic:

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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Arnock » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:50 pm

Fivelives, I don't think dorvan was claiming that smoking caused malnutrition or liver damage, but the fact that either issue had far reaching complications to the rest of one's body.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:42 pm

That's drawn on a misunderstanding of how the body works. If it helps, think of it like an office building.

The nervous system is the management (brain/central nervous system) and telephone switchboard (the rest of the nerves)
The circulatory system is the mailroom (heart) and the mail carts that pick up and deliver packages/forms to the various departments (blood vessels)

The rest of the departments are pretty much self contained - if they have to deliver something, they have it picked up by the mail room and sent to where it's supposed to go, and if management needs to talk to them, they call on the phone. Other than that, each individual department functions as its own unit, with its own middle management and worker drones.

Each system of the body operates as an individual entity with no communication with other systems - barring the nervous system. That's what coordinates it all. If things have to be transported from one system to another (like waste products or nutrients etc) then they get picked up by the blood stream and shuffled off to where they're going. The brain detects the problems in each system and sends signals to compensate for those problems - even inside the individual systems, hell even down to the cellular level, there's little or no communication.

cerwillis - some sources are linked in various posts, but most of it (other than what's already linked) is taken from the various textbooks I've got on cellular biology, genetics, microbiology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology etc as well as lectures I've attended. I'm double majoring in biomedical engineering and Nursing, so there are a lot of them cluttering up my bookshelves, lol. I'm fairly sure they're reputable sources, but unless you're willing to pick up the texts, the citations would be pretty much window dressing.

Edit to add: I did forget to link one in my last post before this: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/ ... ekey=18104 - I was trying to find something on how smoking affects the liver. That article seemed to suit the issue the best.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:51 pm

Fivelives wrote:cerwillis - some sources are linked in various posts, but most of it (other than what's already linked) is taken from the various textbooks I've got on cellular biology, genetics, microbiology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology etc as well as lectures I've attended. I'm double majoring in biomedical engineering and Nursing, so there are a lot of them cluttering up my bookshelves, lol. I'm fairly sure they're reputable sources, but unless you're willing to pick up the texts, the citations would be pretty much window dressing.

Window dressing or not, it would validate your arguments and make your sources more than just, "a book I read once." As a matter of fact, I find it insulting that you would imply that readers wouldn't "get" your sources.

If you are a student in the fields that you have mentioned, then perhaps you have studied Denial and Rationalization in a Psychology class.

I will patiently await statistics that show that smoking is better for me than I thought previously, but I doubt I will ever see any.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:03 pm

Nah, nothing is going to come out saying that. There are plenty of studies that show it's not as bad as it was thought, but then there are plenty of studies that show it's even worse than we're told. It all comes out a wash in the end.

Yeah, I know about denial and rationalization. That's not what this is, though - I'm neither denying that a problem exists, nor am I rationalizing it. Rather, I'm arguing against a commonly held belief.

If you want the sources, I'll get you the sources. I'm not implying that readers wouldn't understand them - but rather that readers wouldn't want to pay $80 per book (more, in some cases; that's the average rental price for most hard science textbooks in my area for a semester) to look the sources up for themselves.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:09 pm

For the record, this is the conclusion of the source that you posted.

www.medicinenet.com wrote:What do I conclude? I would feel more comfortable if there were a better-designed study to more strongly support the hypothesis that smoking cigarettes damages the liver in patients with chronic liver disease. Until such a study appears, however, I believe there is enough support to advise patients with chronic liver disease to refrain from smoking.


Perhaps you can explain why your findings are so much less available than that of, you know, every Doctor in the field that thinks that it is the single worst thing that you can do to yourself short of an auto-accident? Not to put words in your mouth, but I suppose this is a part of the anti-smoking propaganda machine.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fivelives » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:36 pm

I know, I read it. Believe it or not, that's the most unbiased of the possible options. The NIH page that came up on google, I already mentioned a few posts ago.

Perhaps you can explain why your findings are so much less available than that of, you know, every Doctor in the field that thinks that it is the single worst thing that you can do to yourself short of an auto-accident?

Who, me?

And I tend to do just fine putting words in my own mouth.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby cerwillis » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:53 pm

I should perhaps explain why, as a smoker, I am arguing the "anti-smoking" side. I have been a touring musician for almost 20 years, I have seen people do some very bad things to themselves, as well as doing a few myself. What I believe has kept me safe through years and years of self-abuse is constant self-auditing and honesty regarding substances. The people that say to themselves, "I can buy an 8ball and not do it all tonight," or "Heroin isn't bad for you in proper doses," or "I only take 2 pills a day," are the ones that build habits or have accidents.
This is why I tend to believe the worst about smoking. It motivates me to smoke less, and when I do eventually quit, it will be for my (or my family's) own health and no other reason.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Koatanga » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:23 pm

You're exactly right, Cerwillis. In fact, you can't quit smoking until you want to do it for yourself, not for any other person no matter how important that person is to you.

When I finally decided to quit, it really wasn't that difficult. I did stack the cards in my favour with regard to the physical addiction by putting myself in circumstances that prevented me from being able to smoke for lengthy periods, but there were breaks in between when I could have smoked had I really wanted to. I didn't because I really wanted to quit, for myself and no one else.

Like the harm of smoking, the benefits of quitting are not black-and-white, nor do you achieve any immediate gratification from quitting. This makes it easy to give in to temptation, particularly when you are grumpy from not having smoked for a few days.

But if you stop considering degree and simplify the equation to smoking=harm, then it's easier to quit.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:04 pm

Fivelives wrote:As lung capacity decreases, respirations increase. The net effect is still the same amount of oxygen flow to your body - as much as it needs.

Fivelives wrote:Surprisingly, smoking has very little impact on the liver.

Fivelives wrote:Seriously? Malnutrition via cigarette smoking? That's so far outside the realm of possibility it astounds me.
You misread his post, so none of these responses really make sense. He's not saying smoking causes any of the above, he's saying that when things go wrong with lungs, livers, digestive systems, that the affects are not isolated. When any of those stop working you will die, our systems are rather dependent on one another.

Fivelives wrote:Not really. Our bodies are factories. We take in raw materials and process them into an end product - in this case, oxygen and nutrients are the raw materials and energy and waste are the end products. An entire assembly line doesn't come grinding to a halt just because a few workers are out sick, so what makes you think our bodies would? If that was the case, then any illness would be life threatening, even something simple like the common cold.
No, that's silly there are billions of "moving parts" in the body and the common cold is generally not a threat to any of them. You only feel the symptoms because of the side effects of your body's methods for fighting back. Headaches, muscle aches, sneezing, watery eyes, fever, coughs, etc aren't caused by the virus itself, but your body's response to its presence. They are all common symptoms exhibited after an immuno response to a relatively innocous threat, they are all over your body and endured by various systems. Suggesting that the body's systems are not massively interconnected is indeed foolhearty.
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Re: Attn: Smokers in the US

Postby Dorvan » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:11 pm

As lung capacity decreases, respirations increase. The net effect is still the same amount of oxygen flow to your body - as much as it needs.


*citation needed

Fivelives wrote:Not really. Our bodies are factories. We take in raw materials and process them into an end product - in this case, oxygen and nutrients are the raw materials and energy and waste are the end products. An entire assembly line doesn't come grinding to a halt just because a few workers are out sick, so what makes you think our bodies would? If that was the case, then any illness would be life threatening, even something simple like the common cold.


Actually, the common cold is a perfectly good example of how a single illness can affect many different systems. Your argument is more akin to saying that if a factory loses a chunk of it's power or water, that that loss doesn't affect the overall functioning of the factory, or that a part shortage in one area doesn't affect the overall output. The systems of our body each provide services that are essential to other systems. When one system is damaged, it affects the ability of other systems to function. This is exactly why you will often see tipping points of rapidly declining health for patients, as failures of some systems become severe enough to cause damage to others.

Bottom line: Smoking is not good for your health, but it's not as bad as people say it is. The effects are (mostly) minor and mostly affect people with preexisting conditions or predispositions to certain problems. In an otherwise healthy smoker, the body compensates for the various effects of smoking very well.

The reason smoking is demonized is because it's hard for us to accept that "sometimes, shit just happens". We as a species need to blame something, and cigarettes are a convenient scapegoat. It serves a dual purpose - gives us an explanation as to "why" bad shit happens, and allows us to feel a sense of moral superiority by saying that it's the person's fault for making the choice.


Sorry, but this is a load of utter bullshit, and shows that you don't actually understand what the expression "correlation is not causation" means...it's not carte blanche for rejecting any scientific result you don't like. Instead, what it means is that when a correlation between A and B is found, one of the following is true:

A causes B
B causes A (note that "causes" does not have to be a 100% deterministic process to be a valid statement)
some third factor C causes both A and B

When a study finds a correlation between smoking and various diseases, rejecting the most direct hypothesis - that smoking contributes to the illness, requires some alternate causal explanation. Saying that the illness causes smoking can usually be ruled out.

The two most common destructive things you can do to your health are to become obese and to smoke. To claim the the consequences of smoking are "minor" is nothing short of delusional. If you'd like to refute this, here are some arguments for you to start in against:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statist ... g_smoking/
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellnes ... health.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco

In total, the life expectancy of smokers is about 13 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Now, maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones that doesn't have any serious issues...but in russian roulette of life, I have no desire to fill extra chambers.
Last edited by Dorvan on Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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