The overall health dangers of smoking cigarettes have been well publicized. Everything from the heart, to the lungs, to diseases such as diabetes, pancreatic cancer and dozens of other ailments milder and more severe have been traced to the habit. One particularly disturbing and outwardly destructive is the effect of smoking and cigarette smoke on the larynx, or voice box. How often have we seen documentaries and health reports on sufferers of cancer of the larynx where sufferers struggle to speak in hollow tones through artificial contraptions? It may be said that the sight of such sufferers and the damage smoking has reaped on this particular part of the anatomy has come to represent smoking in its most frightening result.
According to ENT USA (2014), cancer of the larynx may be the leading result of smoking, particularly if combined with the heavy use of alcohol. While radiation is usually the first treatment step, the actual removal of the larynx, or laryngectomy is often necessary when radiation doesn’t work. In one study, out of 68 patients with cancer of the larynx, 14 that had actually quite smoking up to twenty-five years before developing the disease still developed the disease and required a laryngectomy.
Leader (2016) in describing electronic cigarettes as “battery powered devices filled with liquid nicotine” examines the new technology as a mixed blessing. On the positive side, studies seems to indicate that to some extent at least electronic cigarettes alleviated the overall desire to smoke and help many study participants to decrease their smoking habit or to quite entirely. The negatives, however, are far less impressive and range from faulty technology and nicotine leaking cartridges, to signs of “acute pulmonary effects” after short smoking periods. (Leader, 2016)
Current research and information certainly reinforces one thing: it is undoubtedly wise not to begin smoking. If you do, it is similarly smart to find a way to quit. The prospect of developing such diseases as cancer of the larynx and its awful ramifications should be better advertised, particularly to young people. While e-cigarettes are certainly a useful technology in controlling the habit, I lean toward the assessment that their availability may actually discourage smokers from kicking the habit altogether. I think they are more useful in preventing cigarette smoke from annoying non-smokers than actually helping smokers kick the habit.
- ENT USA (2014) Larynx cancer and smoking. http://www.entusa.com/voice_box_cancer.htm
- Leader, D. (2016) The pros and cons of electronic cigarettes. http://copd.about.com/od/quittingsmoking/a/E-Cigarettes.htm