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How smoking affects women’s health

Posted by CarePoint Health on Dec 14, 2015 1:00:00 PM

health of woman smoking cigarettesSmoking is harmful to your health, no matter who you are. But for women, the history of smoking — and how it affects women’s health today — is a worrisome trend.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking rates — and smoking-related deaths — among women have continued to rise over the last 50 years. In the 1960s, smoking among men decreased when some of the health dangers of smoking became well-known. But shortly after that happened, cigarettes became heavily marketed to women, with slimmer designs and feminine packaging. Many women were led to believe that smoking would help them lose weight. In the years that followed, the number of women who smoked began to rise dramatically, and the numbers never came back down.

Why is this concerning? Well, smoking carries some serious health problems that affect women in a specific way.

Lung cancer

This deadly cancer has increased tenfold in women since 1959, according to the CDC. Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer. The American Lung Association says the number of women with lung cancer continues to rise, while men’s numbers have plateaued.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD is an incurable lung disease that causes shortness of breath and lack of oxygen. Women are getting COPD at a younger age than men today, and more women are dying from it than men. The rate of COPD among women has increased four-fold over the last 30 years.

Heart disease

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. Women who smoke have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than male smokers.

Smoking and pregnancy

Smoking while pregnant carries serious health risks for the unborn baby. They include problems with the placenta, low birth weight, birth defects like cleft palate, and even stillbirth. If you’re pregnant and you smoke, it’s never too late to quit. Quitting at any stage of pregnancy can give your baby — and you — health benefits. If you need help with quitting and you’re pregnant, be sure to talk with your obstetrician.

Quitting is difficult — but it can be done

Knowing these health risks, there’s never been a better time to quit smoking. But you may already know that quitting is a difficult process. Perhaps you’ve tried to quit in the past without success. Remember, many people have to try quitting a few times before they are able to kick the habit for good. There are a number of resources online that can help. The CDC has stories from real people who quit and helpful tips for quitting.

No one will tell you quitting is easy, but it’s always worth it.

CarePoint Health Gynecology

With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.

Topics: OBGYN, Women's health, Health, Smoking