Women-Specific Health Risks Of Cigarette Smoking And Second Hand Smoke

Smoking is a major public health hazard. It is one of the main causes of premature death around the world as it can cause cancer, increase our risk of heart diseases, and other numerous smoking-related health risks. However, despite all the warnings about the bad effects of smoking, many people are still into it.

Yes, both men and women can suffer from the ill effects of cigarette smoking but there are specific effects that are only reserved for women. Here are some of the reasons to quit now.

Certain Types of Cancer

Smoking causes a variety of cancer in both men and women. However, certain types of cancer are more common in women.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a woman who smokes is at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

In addition to an increased chance of having lung cancer, It was revealed by a Danish study published in the Journal of the National Cancer that women who smoke are six times more likely to develop rectal cancer than those who don’t.

Lastly, vulvar cancer, a type of gynecological cancer, may also occur frequently in a woman who smokes. Smokers experience a 40% higher risk of developing this devastating cancer.

Smoking Worsens Your Period

A more severe premenstrual symptom, such as a 50% increase in cramps which can last up to two or more days, can possibly be experienced by a woman who smokes, according to the ACOG.

Premature Menopause

If a woman begins to smoke as a teenager, this increases her risk for early menopause three times. As compared to non-smokers, women smokers often notice symptoms of early menopause two to three years earlier.

Pregnancy Complications

The nicotine from smoking can harm an unborn baby. According to CDC, smoking can reduce baby’s weight, damage the fetus, lungs, brain, and central nervous system, and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, preterm delivery, sudden infant death syndrome, and serious birth defects such as a cleft palate or a cleft lip.

Respiratory Issues

Women smokers are more likely to develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at younger ages as compared to men. COPD is a condition that makes a person unable to breathe properly and this gets worse over time.

Heart Issues

Heart disease is one of the main causes of death for both men and women who smoke.

When a person smokes, the chemicals and tar in the cigarette can damage his/her blood vessels, blood cells, and heart. Because of this, the person is at high risk of having atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels and peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when the arteries to the arms and legs start to narrow, restricting blood flow.

When compared to men, studies revealed that women who smoke over the age of 35 have a high chance of dying from heart diseases and abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a weakening of the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body.

Reproductive Issues

Several studies have found that women who smoke experience a decreased ovulatory response, impaired fertilization and implantation of the zygote, and altered cervical fluid, thus making it difficult to achieve pregnancy.

Some other reproductive issues women smokers can possibly experience are low estrogen levels which can cause mood swings, fatigue and vaginal dryness; and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a painful disease that often contributes to ectopic pregnancies as well as pelvic adhesions and other fertility problems.

Increased Risk Of Osteoporosis

Sandra Carson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says that

“Cigarettes can lead to early osteoporosis, too. Many studies have shown smoking significantly reduces bone mineral density.”

Studies revealed that with just one pack of cigarettes a day, a woman may experience a 5 to 10% loss of bone density by the time she reaches menopause.

Here Are Some Effective Tips To Help You Quit Smoking

  1. If you want to quit smoking, you need to plan ahead of time and make sure that you have thrown away all your cigarettes and ashtrays when the quit-smoking day arrives.
  2. Many women put on 5 pounds when they kick the habit. Participating in a vigorous exercise program to help you prevent gaining extra pounds, help you quit, and for overall health benefits.
  3. Consume more raw veggies like celery and carrot sticks and other low-calorie munchies that mimic the action of smoking.  Make them always available especially during a time wherein you feel like eating as a result of your desire to have something in your hand/mouth.
  4. Seek support. Women may join a support group to help them when difficult times or emotional conflicts occur. Some successful quitters take comfort in chat rooms designed for ex-smokers.

Once a woman stopped smoking, she will have clearer skin, more stable hormone, stronger immune system, improved oral health, and a lowered risk of developing various types of cancers.