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Unit 1:
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Interlude A
Unit 2:
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Interlude B
Unit 3:
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Interlude C
Unit 4:
Ch. 16
Ch. 17
Ch. 18
Ch. 19
Interlude D
Unit 5:
Ch. 20
Ch. 21
Ch. 22
Ch. 23
Ch. 24
Ch. 25
Ch. 26
Ch. 27
Ch. 28
Ch. 29
Ch. 30
Interlude E
Unit 6:
Ch. 31
Ch. 32
Interlude F
Unit 7:
Ch. 33
Ch. 34
Ch. 35
Ch. 36
Ch. 37
Ch. 38
Interlude G

» Getting Started » A Guide to the Reading » Tying it all together

Getting Started

Below are a few questions to consider prior to reading Interlude E.  These questions will help guide your exploration and assist you in identifying some of the key concepts presented in this chapter.

  1. What is the history of tobacco?
  2. How does smoking impact our circulatory and respiratory systems?
  3. What is the relationship between smoking and cancer?
  4. What is the cost of being exposed to secondhand smoke?
  5. What are the components of tobacco smoke?
  6. How does nicotine produce its addictive effect?
  7. Why is it important to stop smoking?

A Guide to the Reading

When exploring the content in Interlude E for the first time, the following concepts typically give students the most difficulty.  For each concept, one or more references have been identified which may help you gain a better understanding of these potentially problematic areas. 

Tobacco is Harmful to a Number of our Organ Systems

Tobacco smoke can affect many different aspects of our health.  Smoking can influence the circulatory system by increasing the likelihood of atherosclerosis and the formation of plaques on vessel walls.  Narrowing of the blood vessels can lead to hypertension, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or stroke.   Hypertension increases the workload of the heart, resulting in congestive heart failure.  Tobacco smoke is a carcinogen that causes cancer in the lungs, mouth, nasal sinuses, larynx, and throat.  Carcinogens work by altering the DNA of cells and causing them to grow uncontrollably.  Lung cancer is the leading kind of cancer in America.  Cancers in the urinary system, the digestive system, and white blood cells (leukemia) are also caused by smoke.  The smokeless form of tobacco known as snuff can also cause many of these cancers.  Along with causing cancer in the respiratory system, smoke can also damage lung tissue in other ways.  Smoke is an irritant that induces inflammation of the lung cells, leading to chronic bronchitis.  This thickening of the lung passageways makes it more difficult for a person to breathe.  Tobacco smoke also paralyzes the cilia that help to keep our airways clean and free of bacteria.  This leads to the breakdown of the alveoli resulting in emphysema.  Many of these detrimental effects of smoking on the lungs result in an overall decrease in oxygen uptake by the body and fatigue.  These health problems will also affect anyone who comes into contact with secondhand smoke on a regular basis.

For more information on this concept, be sure to focus on:

  • Interlude E, The Adverse Effects of Smoking
  • Table E.1, How Tobacco Smoke Kills
  • Figure E.4, Most Cases of Lung Cancer Result from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
  • Figure E.5, Emphysema

Tobacco Smoke Contains Many Chemicals

Tobacco releases over 4,000 chemical compounds when it is burned.  All of these compounds enter into the body as a person inhales the smoke.  Particulates are small microscopic particles that are released from tobacco when it is burned.  These particulates can cause problems by embedding in lung tissues and potentially causing clots in the bloodstream.  Burning of tobacco also releases carbon monoxide that interferes with the red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen.  As mentioned above, tobacco smoke contains carcinogens including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, and N-nitrosamines.  As tobacco smoke cools, it leaves a sticky brown material known as tar on the lining of the lungs.  This tar contains many of the cancer-causing compounds.  Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco smoke that makes it highly addictive.  Nicotine is a nerve poison at high concentrations.  At low doses, nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine from the nucleus accumbens of the brain.  Dopamine in turn provides the smoker with a feeling of happiness.  Repeated exposure to nicotine causes the nucleus accumbens to be less sensitive to triggers that simulate the release of dopamine.  When smokers try to quit, they no longer receive the pleasure produced by the nicotine-stimulated release of dopamine.  Because their brain has become less sensitive to other natural dopamine-releasing triggers, they no longer receive the feelings of pleasure and become irritable.  The release of dopamine may also be triggered by actions and feelings that are associated with smoking.  There are a number of factors that can help one stop smoking.  They include things such as a good support system, alternatives that provide distractions, and supplemental sources of nicotine.  Quitting smoking early is the key to maintaining a long healthy life.

For more information on this concept, be sure to focus on:

  • Interlude E, The Problem with Tobacco Smoke
  • Interlude E, Most successful efforts at quitting involve outside help of some sort
  • Table E.2, The Major Components of Cigarette Smoke with Adverse Health Effects
  • Figure E.7, The Chemical Structure of Nicotine
  • Figure E.8, Addictive Drugs Stimulate Cells in the Nucleus Accumbens

Tying it all together

Several concepts presented in this chapter build upon concepts presented in previous chapters and are also revisited and discussed in greater detail in subsequent chapters, including:

Factors Influenced by Smoking

  • Interlude B, An Interplay of Factors Can Cause Cancer
  • Chapter 9 – Section 9.3, Mitosis and Cytokinesis: From One Cell to Two Identical Cells
  • Chapter 23 – Section 23.4, Health Conditions Affecting the Human

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