Mitch’s note: In the interest of fairness and to reveal my own biases, I am an unapologetic tobacco user.
I know this article is going to be completely politically incorrect, but I’ve always had a problem with the demonization of completely legal and in some ways beneficial substances. I’ve always known that if everyone I was exposed to in society and the media was telling me the same thing, they were most likely lying. And ninety nine percent of the time I’ve been right. Amid the growing absurdity and increasingly hysterical pogroms against substances such as tobacco, alcohol, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and many others, modern scientific studies are refuting the ill-informed and ignorant prejudices against many of these substances.
Anyone remember the hubbub about coconut oil a few years back? What happened was a couple of nutritional busybodies from The Center for Science in the Public Interest started a propaganda campaign against coconut oil, blaming it for everything from increased obesity rates to increased risk of heart disease. Thing about it was, coconut oil is what gives movie theatre popcorn its unique aroma and flavor. It’s also a natural preservative; popcorn popped in a large popper like you find in movie theaters will stay fresh all night. The FDA moved to ban the oil but public outcry stopped them in their tracks. So what’s the verdict now? Coconut oil has become the darling of the health food and natural remedies set, a pretty liberal bunch is there ever was one. Well, I think the same thing is about to happen with tobacco.
I just happened to run across this article in Associated Content from Yahoo. From “The Smoker’s Paradox“ by Juniper Russo:
“Thanks to Surgeon General’s Warning labels, public smoking bans, strict regulation of advertising, excise taxes, and public service messages, nearly everyone in America is fully aware of the many health risks associated with cigarette smoking Ongoing research has continuously proven smoking causes lung dysfunction, cancer, SIDS, heart disease, birth defects, preterm birth and other serious health problems. Knowing this, the idea that cigarette smoking may offer health benefits may seem utterly absurd.”
Now why would such an assumption be totally absurd? Tobacco has been used in this country for hundreds of years. Any time I hear a statement like “ongoing research has continuously proven,” I know good and damned well that nothing has been proven.
“However, cigarette smoking has been confirmed to provide numerous benefits to the health of smokers. Surprisingly, the tobacco plant appears to have more to offer our bodies than a guarantee of certain death. Although the health benefits of smoking are far outweighed by the many very dire risks, tobacco may provide alternative relief or prevention for some diseases in certain individuals.”
After this statement, I can tell the tone this article is going to take. Here is a writer who has stumbled across some facts that just don’t fit in with their worldview. The phrase “many very dire risks” is a bit of overkill to counteract the health benefits being reported on.
“The most fascinating and widely recognized health benefit of smoking is its ability to seemingly alleviate symptoms of mental illnesses, including anxiety and schizophrenia. According to an article published in 1995 in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, schizophrenics have much higher smoking rates than people with other mental illnesses, and appear to use it as a method of self-medicating. The article postulates that nicotine found in cigarettes reduces psychiatric, cognitive, sensory, and physical effects of schizophrenia, and also provides relief of common side effects from antipsychotic drugs.”
I’ve seen this personally. When I was much younger I worked for an AC and refrigeration company. One of our customers was an assisted care facility for people with schizophrenia and mental illness. Everyone there smoked, and I mean everyone.
“The treatment of schizophrenia isn’t the only positive effect that nicotine has on the brain. A series of very interesting studies from multiple academic sources confirms that the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease is surprisingly higher in non-smokers than in smokers. Doctor Laura Fratiglioni of Huddinge University Hospital in Sweden states, ‘Cigarette smokers are 50% less likely to have PD or AD than are age- and gender-matched nonsmokers […] cigarette smoking exerts an undefined biologic neuroprotective influence against the development of PD and AD.’”
The first time I heard this, I think I was listening to Rush Limbaugh (that was a while ago before his being a tool for the neocons got to be more than I could bear). He said something to the effect of, “if it weren’t so politically incorrect, doctors would prescribe cigarettes at age sixty.”
“The University of Melbourne confirmed the claims made by many smokers that tobacco itself is a strong appetite suppressant, and many use it to self-treat compulsive overeating disorders or obesity. Many smokers experience weight loss and decreased appetite after they begin smoking, and the Melbourne study found similar results in lab rats and mice exposed to cigarette smoke. While tobacco-influenced pharmaceuticals may at some point be an available option to treat obesity, smoking as a self-treatment is very ill-advised, since the negative effects of tobacco and obesity tend to compound and create interrelated conditions.”
After my divorce while I wasn’t obese, I was carrying around about fifty extra pounds. I smoked when I was younger and in the service, but I quit when I got out. After the divorce, I really couldn’t think of any good reasons not to so I started smoking again. Whether the change in my diet or the smoking is the reason, I lost those fifty pounds within eight months.
“Cigarette smoking has also been linked to a decrease in risk of certain inflammatory disorders, since nicotine itself appears to be an anti-inflammatory agent. The department of gastroenterology at the University Hospital of Wales conducted a number of in-vitro studies to confirm and explain the decreased risk in ulcerative colitis (a potentially severe digestive disorder) in individuals who smoke cigarettes.”
I was kind of wondering why I never got heartburn again after I started back smoking.
“Perhaps most shockingly, tobacco smoke’s anti-inflammatory effects may actually provide some benefits to children who are exposed to secondhand smoke. While this is certainly not worth at-home experimentation, one astonishing study conducted in Sweden observed two generations of Swedish children and found that the children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema, and food allergies. The studied groups included 6909 adults and 4472 children, and the findings remained consistent, even when adjusted to reflect other variables.”
What? Second hand smoke is good for the kiddies? How the hell can that be when we are bombarded with news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and every other media story imaginable that just being in the general vicinity of someone who smokes will lead to an agonizing, completely preventable death?
It occurs to me that we’ve been fed a complete line of bullshit. I’m not going to quote any more from Juniper Russo’s article, it predictably falls into a warning to all of us children that we shouldn’t take the benefits seriously, after all smoking is “vewy, vewy bad“ (my words not hers?, his? What kind of name is Juniper?) and we shouldn’t even think about getting near any tobacco, much less think about consuming some. Before all you cigarette haters out there start piling on, let me recount a little story:
I grew up around smokers. Mother (but not father, he had quit before I was born.), grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and my parent’s friends. I know for a fact that my mother smoked throughout both mine and my sister’s pregnancies and from what I can tell; (I was ten pounds eight ounces when born, my sister was seven pounds six) there were no ill effects except maybe making me a little more susceptible to smoking when older. The only incidence where anyone had any adverse effects was my maternal grandmother. And, the effects were only incidental. My maternal grandmother smoked two packs a day of Winston’s from the time she was fourteen years old until her death. When she was seventy five years old, my mother talked her into going in for a chest x-ray. The doctors found a spot on her lung about the size of a dime. Again, my mother talked her into having surgery to have the spot removed; two weeks later, she was dead. Not from any lung cancer, not from the smoking, my grandmother had no cardiovascular disease, no coronary heart disease; she died from blood clots the surgery she should have never had released into her bloodstream. The way I figure it, she probably would have lived at least ten more years if she hadn’t listened to my stupid ass mother. Stupid people put their faith in institutionalized medicine, I don’t.
The evidence is starting to accumulate that tobacco consumption is not bad for you, contrary to all the media and governmental hysteria over the last five decades. The link from the first of this paragraph lists twenty three separate scientific studies that present evidence to back up my premise. There’s even a doctor who wrote a book titled The Health Benefits of Tobacco: A Smoker’s Paradox, which I highly recommend.
I know I’m going to get the question, “So Mitch, why did you write this when you know that you’re going to get all kinds of knee-jerk, anti-smoker reaction to your article?” Well, my answer is this. When a nanny society or government starts telling me what’s good for me against my better instincts and then takes it upon itself to force me to change my behavior, it becomes a personal matter to prove them wrong. I just can’t sit back and take it; bring on the anti-smokers, the second hand smoke fearers and anyone else who wants to tell me what I can do with my life…with faulty evidence to back up their positions.
And also, anyone who knows the truth about nutrition and vitamin supplements knows that taken properly, vitamins D3, non-acid C, CoQ10 and resveratrol will nearly completely eliminate the chance that you might get cancer.
Read this study to see what really WILL get you in the end.