You know that smoking harms your health. But there are some other very good reasons to finally ditch the cigarettes for good.
Will next year be the year you finally stop?
It should be, for lots of reasons you’re probably all too aware of. Smoking can shorten your life, contributing to a huge range of diseases including heart disease and various cancers. There’s plenty of evidence that smoking makes Covid symptoms worse.
The NHS has a comprehensive list of the health consequences of smoking. Among many others, it damages your lungs and worsens respiratory conditions.
As well as shortening life, it’s also life limiting, leaving you wheezy and breathless when you should be breathing easily. It gives you a cough and makes your breath smell. And let’s not be coy. In men it’s also a cause of impotence.
We could go on, but you probably know all this. There are no upsides to smoking as far as health and wellbeing are concerned. And yet if you haven’t given up yet, why would you do so now?
Life is about to get harder for smokers
If all that wasn’t enough, there are two more very good reasons to quit cigarettes in 2022.
For one, the life of smokers could very well become harder in the not too distant future, with higher taxes and more restrictions on where you can and can’t smoke. The reasoning behind this is that smokers don’t just harm themselves, they harm others in the process.
Second hand smoke can cause illness in adults and children. Smokers place a huge burden on the NHS, taking up resources that could be used in other areas.
Whether you agree with this reasoning or not, it's partly behind the pledges a number of UK cities are making to go “smoke free” in future, and possibly by 2030.
This would mean higher costs on cigarettes, tougher tobacco regulations to protect children and young people and more investment to provide additional support to help smokers quit.
In other words, the clock is ticking. As the New Year approaches, it’s time to get healthier and help protect others, and save a significant amount of money into the bargain.
One more reason to quit
And if you need that last nudge, there’s one more reason to quit in 2022, and it’s especially true for men. Stopping smoking slows hair loss.
A 2020 study compared the onset of male pattern baldness in smokers and non smokers between the ages of 20 and 35. It found that 425 of 500 smokers showed some degree of hair loss, while less than half that number of non smokers did.
It also found that 47% of the smokers had grade 3 hair loss and 24% had grade 4, both of which mean noticeable and quite significant thinning. Only 10% of non-smokers reached either grade.
There’s all sorts of possible ways that smoking might accelerate hair loss, though none have yet to be conclusively proven as the culprit. Two of the main potential causes are:
Oxidative stress happens because of the excessive activity of free radicals in the body. Studies have suggested that toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke may lead to damage to the DNA of cells in hair follicles, thanks to oxidative stress.
Reduced blood flow
Smoking can cause problems with blood circulation. One theory is that reduced blood flow to the scalp can lead to hair damage, by slowing the delivery of vital nutrients to hair follicles.
And it’s not just about hair loss. Studies also show that smoking might damage hair, making it dryer or more brittle. One study even found an association between smoking and the earlier onset of grey hair. Those who smoked were more likely to start going grey before the age of 30 than those who didn’t.
The best advice: time to quit in 2022
The clear message in all this is that you should make 2022 the year when you finally give cigarettes the slip, and by doing so almost instantly improve your health and wellbeing.
Slowing hair loss isn’t the main reason to stop smoking, but it certainly gives smokers something else to think about. Giving up cigarettes could mean you keep a full head of hair for a lot longer.
There are other ways to keep your scalp and hair follicles healthy, too, and reduce the chances of premature hair loss. They include eating a hair-healthy diet and taking the right supplements (if required). Hair loss treatments like Regaine and Propecia can slow hair loss and even encourage regrowth.
This guide from The Independent Pharmacy gives you all the information you need on scalp health and keeping a full head of hair for longer.
So have a great Christmas and a happy New Year. And while you’re enjoying the festive fun, why not make a resolution that 2022 will be the year when you stop smoking, for the good of your health and your hair.