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It’s a Holiday. Let’s Lighten It Up a Little!
Some of you have been around long enough to remember cigarette commercials with a handsome cowboy like this smoking a cigarette. The implied message was smoking made you like this guy—young, strong, athletic, handsome. If you just smoke a cigarette, all your awkwardness around girls will be gone. You can go from a zero to a hero in a flash—just by smoking a cigarette! Now that is a cautionary tale that should forever alert you to the seductive power of advertising. Because the truth and the ad could not be further apart!
Girls, smoking does not make you stronger or more virile. In fact, the smoking cowboy will have limber timber much sooner because of cigarettes. Erectile disfunction becomes more common after 40 and may be up to three times as common in smokers. He will get older, weaker, sicker faster. He will have less endurance. You can see him age faster. “The effect of smoking on your skin can be simply summarized by saying that smoking makes you look a lot older than you are. This is because smoking causes premature wrinkling, and gives your skin a grey, aged appearance. It also makes your skin sag more than it would otherwise.” He will be more likely to have cancer and heart disease. Death will take him from you sooner. The chasm between the ad and the reality have never been greater!
The new science helps us understand this reality in great detail. Scientific medicine has never been more effective if you want to know how to be healthier longer. One of the main things linking aging and chronic disease is an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants which increases as time goes by. Every puff of cigarette contains ten to the fifteenth oxidative particles! Every puff! That is one with 15 zeros after it! I can’t even imagine that number.
Increased oxidants reduce production of a critical chemical by the inner lining of the artery. This chemical is called nitric oxide (NO). NO is vital for vascular health. The skin lines the body in general and it is called epithelium. Epi means on or upon. Endo means within or inside. Oxidants damage the endothelium of the artery—the inner lining of arterial cells. These are the cells that make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes the artery to open up in response to a need for more blood flow. That comes into play when you are running, and you need more nutrients and oxygen supply to your muscles. It is what causes chest pain in heart artery disease-angina. Nitric oxide is the active ingredient in the nitroglycerin pill under the tongue that relieves anginal chest pain. This mechanism is especially important in women with heart disease.
In fact, the scientists who developed Viagra were looking for a way to increase nitric oxide availability for people with artery disease. It didn’t help chest pain much but a side effect made it a billion dollar drug. Damage to the inner lining of the artery and reduced nitric oxide production are the root cause of erectile dysfunction or impotence. Like high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction means a man already has vascular disease, and that brings us to the lighter side of this topic.
This is a true story that speaks to how I learned all women don’t welcome the benefits of Viagra. I had treated this older woman for a long time, and I also saw her husband. I never had any trouble wondering what she thought. One day I came into the examination room and right away she took control of the visit as I sat down to talk. She looked me right in the eye and she said: “Let me tell you something young fellow, if you give that old fool I am married to something to help with his nature, I promise you I will shoot you myself! I have had enough rubbing and scrubbing to last two lifetimes!” This woman meant business and I believed her! (nature is a polite term for sexual function in the small town South). So, if you are like this woman, encourage your husband to keep smoking. If you like him and still want him around, encourage him to stop smoking, eat real food, get some exercise, and take lisinopril or losartan, and/or eplerenone for high blood pressure, statins for cholesterol, and metformin for diabetes and prediabetes. These interventions all have powerful antioxidant effects to keep your man healthier longer. Enjoy the holiday!
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