Is smoking more harmful for women?

Research has shown that smoking can be even more harmful for women then men. In western societies heart disease and strokes are among the most common causes of death among women. Smoking increases the risk of these diseases and for women that take the pill the risk is 20-40 times as high. Certain kinds of cancer are more common among women that smoke, e.g. cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat as well as liver and colon cancer. Since the year 1950 there has been a 600% increase in death rates from lung cancer among American women.
a picture of women and smoking
Research has shown that smoking can be even more harmful for women then men. In western societies heart disease and strokes are among the most common causes of death among women. Smoking increases the risk of these diseases and for women that take the pill the risk is 20-40 times as high. Certain kinds of cancer are more common among women that smoke, e.g. cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat as well as liver and colon cancer. Since the year 1950 there has been a

Osteoporosis is on the rise, especially among women. Research has shown that nicotine in cigarettes slows down the production of osteoblasts (bone producing cells) and makes them less active which again hinders calcium uptake. Smoking therefore reduces the bone mass which promotes osteoporosis.

Menstruation and smoking

Special for women is the fact that smoking can cause irregular menstrual cycles, increased occurence of menstrual cramps, lack of estrogen and premature menopause. A link has also been found between smoking among women and diseases that are connected to childbearing and infertility.

Smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Smoking during pregnancy is connected to lower birth rates and miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths and cot deaths. Smoking causes contraction of the arteries in the uterus and carbon monoxide affects the transport of oxygen to the placenta.  Smoking also affects breastfeeding as women that smoke have less prolactin (the hormone of lactation). Women that smoke are less likely to breastfeed and if they do they breastfeed for a shorter period of time than women that don’t smoke. Children of women that smoke tend to have more health problems, such as respiratory diseases, asthma, ear infections and behavioral problems as well as learning difficulties.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke

There are more than 4.000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke and more than 50 of them are known carcinogens. The best known substances are carbon monoxide, nicotine, arsenic, hydrazine and acetone. It only takes nicotine seven seconds to reach the brain when a person smokes so the effects are instant. That’s one of the reasons for smoking being so addictive.

Have we seen the full effects of smoking on women’s health?

It is thought that no country in the world has yet seen the full effects of smoking on women’s health although that time is getting closer as women have now smoked for decades and the harmful effects of smoking on a persons health typically has it’s effect over a period of 20-40 years. That time has almost been reached in Denmark where smoking among women has been more widespread than in other places of the world and the life expectancy of Danish women is shorter than among other women living in Western Europe. Unfortunately for women who smoke the answer to the question if smoking is more harmful for women than men has to be answered with a yes, at least when it comes down to women´s special features like everything related to menstruation, pregnancy, infertility,  and being more prone to getting osteoporosis. The best advice for women is therefore never to start smoking or quit as soon as possible if you already smoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

This Post Has One Comment

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