Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Smoking Risks In Women

Smoking kills 114,000 people per year in the UK and a growing proportion of these are women. The risks taken by women in smoking are many fold and are well documented. Of these 114,000 deaths, over 42,000 of them are women.

As a group, 23% of all adult women are considered to be regular smokers compared with 26% of adult men. However, at secondary school age, more girls smoke than boys, at a rate of 26% to 16% respectively. Arguably this is because of the false belief that smoking helps weight loss and or slimming. As teenage girls are more susceptible to the social pressure of looking slim, this may well be a promoting factor in the higher prevalence of female smokers.

Given this similar rate of regular smoking at adulthood, women tend to smoke 2 cigarettes per day less than men, on average smoking 13 cigarettes compared to men smoking 15. It is possible that this is as a result of the difference in body mass between men and women.

80% of female lung cancer victims are smokers compared with 90% of male lung cancer victims. This is thought to be as a result of some metabolic difference between men and women, but female smokers should not consider the lower percentage as a blessing. Overall, more than 90% of lung cancer patients, whether male or female, are dead within 5 years of diagnosis as a direct result of their smoking.

Social class plays a role in death rates as a result of lung cancer too. The lowest social classes of men are five times more likely to die from lung cancer than the highest. In women, the lowest social class is twice as likely to die from lung cancer as the highest social class. Obviously, there are significant differences in smoking habits between these social classes but also other mitigating factors such as diet and alcohol consumption may play a role too.

Women greatly increase the risk of cervical cancer along with all the other forms of cancer that are known to be more prevalent in smokers. These include cancers of the mouth, lip and throat, cancer of the pancreas, bladder cancer, cancer of the kidney, stomach cancer, liver cancer and leukaemia.

Women who smoke put their children at much higher risk than those who don't although any child should be protected from exposure to cigarette smoke regardless. Smoking during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of miscarriage, bleeding during pregnancy, premature birth and hence low weight of babies at birth. Lower birth weight and premature birth greatly increase the risks of ill-health in the child and the failure of that child to thrive. Finally and probably most painfully to any parent, smoking greatly increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also referred to as SIDS or cot death.

There is a prevalence in western society for women to use the contraceptive pill and links have been found between the pill and smokers with respect to a reduction in good health or a risk of negative side effects. Most notably, women on the pill increase their risk of heart attack ten-fold by smoking. There is also a higher incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease in women taking the pill and smoking.

Smoking also increases the risk of problematic menstruation (but not Pre-Menstrual Tension or Pre-Menstrual Stress) and has been found to accelerate the onset of menopause. It has been found that women are likely to enter the menopause on average 2 years earlier than non-smoking women and are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis, a debilitating disease suffered by women which sees their bones decay and 'shrink' as they grow older.

Smoking also has an aging effect on smokers, most noticeably in the wrinkling of the skin. The toxins in cigarette smoke are known to harm the metabolism of the skin as well as promoting the drying of the skin itself. Coupled to this, smoking accelerates the narrowing of blood vessels providing blood to the skin that again reduces its vitality. It is also thought that some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke increase the production of specific enzymes that break down collagen, the underlying substance that gives skin a youthful appearance and feel. It is also thought that smoking and the incidence of psoriasis are linked.

Finally, excess weight in female smokers tends towards the upper torso and around the organs of the body, rather than around the legs and hips. Female smokers have a lower waist to hip ratio making them statistically less curvaceous or feminine looking. The weight gain (if any) after smoking cessation tends away from the upper torso and with time, body fat tends towards the hips, buttocks and legs, away from the organs and heart. This is though to greatly reduce the risk of heart disease in women who quit smoking.

Pete Howells owns the website EasyQuit System and has devised a simple system that will help any smoker quit by giving them the instructions they need to follow to achieve their ambition to quit. Please visit http://easyquitsystem.com to find out more about his incredible process for quitting smoking.