What’s the difference between cigarettes and food?
You can probably list plenty of differences. They are probably mostly biased in the favour of food which, when done right, keeps us alive. Cigarettes do not. They may keep us thin. They may give us something to do with our hands and our mouths, but they do not in any way keep us alive. In fact they may do the exact opposite.
Living is what we are programmed to do. Our Dinky Amigos are there for exactly that reason. If we can stay alive long enough to have children, we can pass our Dinky Amigos on as DNA to the next generation and count ourselves successful.
Our bodies are equipped to suffer many of the trials and tribulations of life, but only if we follow a few basic rules. One of those is what goes where.
Everything we ingest gets diverted to the stomach where organs such as the pancreas and the liver are designed to clean and treat any poisons we may accidentally have eaten. Whole systems within them are available for just such an eventuality. They keep us safe.
Everything we inhale gets diverted to the lungs. In comparison, they have a much smaller cleaning system. A few brushes and a bit of mucus. It really isn’t anything like on the same scale.
You are not supposed to inhale poisons – certainly not on purpose and over a long period of time. Your body doesn’t like it and your Dinky Amigos are positively devastated by it.
Hi, Alina here.
Me and my friends and cousins make the rules and instructions for your body. We also make them for every other living thing out there. You might know us as DNA. Our instructions are in the way we line up – or our sequence.
We are quite tolerant of many things, but there are somethings we just cannot stand. One of those things is smoke. We are not keen on any smoke really, but cigarette smoke is the worst. Ugh!
When you are as small as we are, you see that smoke is made up of loads of chemicals. Some of them are real meanies. Horrible bullies and the worst ones are called carcinogens. They can cause cancer in your body by stopping us giving you the right instructions.
How do they do that?
Dinky Amigos love to dance. We have always done it. A massive party is the way forward for us and who doesn’t love a party?
When we dance we can find brand new friends. Enough, in fact, to make even more DNA. That means that you can grow and we can repair any damage if you have hurt yourself.
We have strict rules about our dances though and we ALWAYS have the same partners. I dance with Tristan. Gina dances with Crispin. ALWAYS!
Carcinogens like to barge into these dances. That wouldn’t be so bad, but they try and make us dance with the wrong partners.
Obviously we say “no” at first, but they sneak into our line up. Then they cause chaos and confusion.
If the chaos is too much, we sometimes end up dancing with the wrong partners and don’t notice until it is too late.
Mutations aren’t always bad
That causes a change (or mutation) in our sequence. Sometimes the change is not a problem because it doesn’t alter our instructions.
Sometimes the change alters our instructions, but the instructions don’t cause problems in your body.
Sometimes the change radically alters our instructions and makes you ill.
The more you smoke, the more chances you give the carcinogens to cause this type of chaos. The most chaos is caused in the lungs. If you smoke 20 cigarette a day, you might have caused 150 mutations in your DNA here. That means 150 changes in the Dinky Amigos line up leading to 150 changes in our instructions to your body.
But smoke gets everywhere and it is not just your lungs where we have to worry about big bully carcinogens. With the same smoking habit, 20 cigarettes a day might also cause nearly 100 mutations in your larynx (that’s the bit at the back of your throat that contains your vocal chords) and various others in your mouth. Even your bladder and liver are affected – and they are miles away from your lungs!
But some mutations are really bad
Some of the most important instructions we give are to tell the cells that make up your body when to grow and when to stop. If there is a mutation in our “stop” instruction, the cells just keep growing. Too much growth makes something called a tumour.
We don’t like tumours (and I don’t think you are too keen, either). If they can’t be treated, they end up destroying your body. If your body goes, so do we.
Don’t kill us off, please.