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Women's health and smoking

Women smokers suffer all the consequences of smoking that men do such as increased of risk various cancers (lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, kidney, and bladder) and respiratory diseases, but as women we

need explicit cognizance about the numerous smoking-related health risks which are uniquely ours.

Women who smoke are at higher risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease and lung cancer than women who don't smoke. What's more, women smokers are 12 times more likely to die from lung cancer than women who do not smoke, and they're ten times more likely to die from bronchitis and emphysema. While the lives of all women smokers are at risk, post-menopausal women and women on birth-control pills lead the pack in succumbing to smoking-related diseases that can go on to cause death.

Some research has revealed that women might be more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine and have a slower metabolic clearance of nicotine from their bodies than men. Also, women seem to be more susceptible to the effects of tobacco carcinogens than men.

Oral contraceptives and smoking: The risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in women is increased by approximately tenfold if they both smoke and use oral contraceptives. Women smokers who use oral contraceptives risk serious consequences including increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. This risk increases with age and women over 35 who smoke should not use oral contraceptives. This effect is more marked in women over 45. Historically, a mild elevation in blood pressure often occurred in pill users. However, blood pressure often returned to normal "prepill" levels once oral contraceptives were discontinued. New studies indicate that high blood pressure is not a common problem for todays Pill users, nonetheless all women using oral contraceptives should have their blood pressure checked every six to twelve months.

Pregnancy, infant health and smoking: Smoking increases the chances of sudden infant death syndrome, infant and perinatal deaths, learning disorders, attention deficit disorder and disruptive behavior. Chemicals in tobacco are passed from pregnant mothers through the blood stream to the fetus. These toxic chemicals present serious risks to the unborn child, as well as the mother. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery, low birthweight, premature rupture of membranes, placenta previa, miscarriage, and neonatal death. New borns whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have the same nicotine levels in their bloodstream's as adults who smoke, and they go through withdrawal during their first days of life. Babies born to women who smoke are on average 200 grams (8 ozs) lighter than babies born to comparable non-smoking mothers. Low birth weight is associated with higher risks of death and diseases in infancy and early childhood. The more cigarettes a woman smokes during pregnancy, the greater the probable reduction in birth weight. Recent research suggests that cigarettes can reduce the flow of blood in the placenta which limits the amount of nutrients that reach the foetus. Children born to mothers who smoke experience more colds, ear aches, respiratory problems, and illnesses requiring visits to the pediatrician than children born to nonsmokers.

Infertility and smoking: Women who smoke may have reduced fertility. Studies found that 38% of non-smokers conceived in their first cycle compared with 28% of smokers. And Smokers were 3.4 times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than one year to conceive. It was estimated that the fertility of smoking women was 72% that of non-smokers. Cigarette smoking can also affect male-fertility; spermatozoa from smokers are found to be decreased in density and motility compared with that of non-smokers. A new study found that sperm cells carrying Y-chromosome are more vulnerable to the toxins in cigarette smoke.

Menstruation, menopause and smoking: Smokers experience a greater prevalence of secondary amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), and irregularity of periods. Smokers are also more likely to experience unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding. Smoking causes women to reach natural menopause one to two years earlier than non-smokers or ex-smokers. Menstrual abnormalities and early menopause may be caused by a toxic effect on the ovaries or by the significantly lower levels of estrogens noted in many studies of women smokers. Smoking causes women to reach natural menopause one to two years earlier than non-smokers or ex-smokers.(2) This may be due to a toxic effect on ovaries caused by smoke exposure, or to the significantly lower levels of oestrogens in smokers noted in many studies. The natural menopause occurs up to two years earlier in smokers. The likelihood is related to the number of cigarettes smoked, with those smoking more than ten cigarettes a day having an increased risk of an early menopause. Beginning to smoke as a teenager increases a woman's risk of early menopause three times. Smokers often notice symptoms of menopause two to three years earlier than nonsmokers.

Hormones and smoking: Smoking causes women to enter menopause sooner and interrupts the menstrual cycle. Estrogen replacement therapy provides beneficial protection, to post menopausal women against the risk of osteoporosis. But these benefits are many times negated by the increased cardiovascular and other health risks associated with smoking while taking hormones. Women who smoke face a serious increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke when using estrogens. This risk should be discussed with your physician before beginning hormone replacement therapy, if you are a smoker. Your doctor will assist you if you choose to quit smoking.

Osteoporosis and smoking: Cigarette smoking contributes to osteoporosis, an increase in bone fragility that accompanies aging. Smoking reduces bone density, possibly through its effects on oestrogens. The study estimates that women who smoke 20 cigarettes a day through adulthood will have reduced their bone density by around 5 to 10% by the time they reach menopause, compared to non-smokers. This deficit in bone density is enough to increase the risk of fracture. Women who smoke, one pack of cigarettes a day, often experience a loss of bone density equaling five to ten percent more than nonsmokers by the time they reach menopause.

Cancers: Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women—surpassing breast cancer. Some 68,000 U.S. women die each year from the disease and lung cancer mortality rates among US women have increased about 600 percent since 1950. Once rare among women, lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of female cancer death in the United States. It now accounts for 25 percent of all cancer deaths among women.

Cardiovascular disease: Smoking greatly increases women's risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, the risk for heart disease among middle-aged women who smoke is triple that of middle-aged non-smoking women.

Appearance and oral-related conditions: Tobacco increases the risk for periodontal disease and oral cancers and also leads to chronic bad breath, teeth staining, increased tartar deposits, tooth loss and exaggerated wrinkling in the face.

Cancers of the uterine cervix and vulvar: Women who smoke cigarettes have a greater risk of developing cancers of the cervix and vulvar. For cervical cancer the relationship appears to be dose-responsive, with one study finding an 80% increased risk of developing the cancer among heavy smokers. It is estimated that 19% of cervical cancer and 40% of vulvar cancer is caused by smoking.

More information on quitting smoking

How to quit smoking? - Many smokers know they need to quid smoking to avoid health risk. Smoking cessation is of the most importance for people who is suffering from unpleasant smoking symptoms.
What health effects are associated with smoking? - The main health risks in tobacco smoking pertain to diseases of the respiratory tract and also to diseases of the cardiovascular system, in particular smoking being a major risk factor for a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
What're the constituents of tobacco smoke? - Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of several thousand chemical compounds. These include particulates (tar) of sticky solids, gases such as carbon monoxide, and volatiles. Most importantly, the smoke contains nicotine ĘC the addictive drug.
Smoking and lung cancer - Lung cancer is directly related to smoking. Over 40 carcinogens have been identified in cigarette smoke. The risk of developing lung cancer is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked.
Smoking and cardiovascular disease - There are a number of cardiovascular diseases that can be related to smoking. They include heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Smoking aggravates and accelerates of the development of atherosclerotic lesions in the arterial walls.
Smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease in which the lung is damaged, making it hard to breathe. Prolonged tobacco use causes lung inflammation and variable degrees of air sack (alveoli) destruction.
Other cancers caused by or associated with smoking - Cigarette smoking is a major cause of cancers of the oral cavity, oesophagus and larynx. Smoking is a cause of bladder cancer. Cigarette smoking is at least a contributory and may be a causal factor in the development of pancreatic cancer.
Women's health and smoking - Women smokers suffer all the consequences of smoking that men do such as increased of risk various cancers (lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, kidney, and bladder) and respiratory diseases.
Harm to human body by smoking - Chemicals in tobacco cause damage to the macula (the most sensitive part of the retina, the back of the eye). Smoking is a risk factor for all cancers associated with the larynx, oral cavity and oesophagus.
What is passive smoking? - "Passive smoking" or "secondhand smoke" - also known as "environmental tobacco smoke" (ETS) or "involuntary smoking" - occurs when the ambient smoke from one person's cigarette is inhaled by other people.
Health hazards of passive smoking - Some of the immediate effects of passive smoking include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Adults with asthma can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed, while new cases of asthma may be induced in children whose parents smoke.
How to avoid passive smoking? - Let your visitors know your home is a smoke-free zone, request them to smoke outside. Ask your visitors to put off the cigarette before entering your room. Ask to be seated in non-smoking areas as far from smokers as possible when dining out.
What is a smoking addiction? - A smoking addiction means a person has formed an uncontrollable dependence on cigarettes to the point where stopping smoking would cause severe emotional, mental, or physical reactions.
Why quit smoking? - Smoking increases the risk of respiratory diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smokers have twice the risk of dying of heart attacks, as do non-smokers.
How to stop smoking? - Quitting smoking is a lot like losing weight; it takes a strong commitment over a long period of time. Withdrawal from nicotine has two parts - the physical and the psychological.
Cigar smoking and health - A cigar is defined, for tax purposes, as "any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco," while a cigarette is "any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or any substance not containing tobacco.
What smoking cessation medications are available? - Nicotine for NRT is available by prescription as an inhaler or nasal spray (Nicotrol Inhaler and Nicotrol NS).
Changes in body weight and smoking cessation - Smokers weigh, on average, around 3 kg less than non-smokers, although heavy smokers are more likely to be moderately or severely overweight. For many people, the fear of gaining weight prevents them from quitting smoking.
Health benefits of quitting smoking - Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. The health benefits of smoking cessation far exceed any risks from the average 2.3 kg (5 pound) weight gain or any adverse psychological effects that may follow quitting.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005