In the first half of the 20th century, lung cancer in women was extremely atypical. In addition to that smoking wasn't very ubiquitous. Unfortunately, that soon changed when the tobacco industry started targeting women. In 1964, the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health was released and it became clear that smoking was a deadly habit which engulfed 45 percentages of women all over. A media campaign followed and smoking rates began to fall, as did tobacco industry profits. But the rates declined more in men than women the tobacco industry had started their own media campaign, once again marketing directly to women.
By 1987, lung cancer had outdone breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Today, more women die each year from lung cancer than breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancers combined. In fact, lung cancer among women is now considered a scourge, killing almost 75,000 in the US last year. Women appear to be more vulnerable to lung cancer than men, and they tend to get it at younger ages.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Shortness of breath
Fever with an unknown cause
Coughing up blood
Weight loss & loss of appetite
Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
Other Smoking influenced Diseases in Women
While lung cancer might be the most lethal disease caused by smoking, it's not the only one. Smoking doubles the risk of having a heart attack, and increases the risk of dying from a heart attack within the first hour. This is an especially serious problem for women since women are more likely to die after a first heart attack than men. Women who use birth control pills and smoke are at especially high risk of having a heart attack.
Smoking also increases the risk of other cancers, including breast, uterine cancer, bladder and oral cancer. Smoking also increases a woman's risk of low bone density and osteoporosis.
Smoking-Related Disorders in Women
Smoking is not just bad for women it's bad for their families and future families as well. Smoking can cause infertility in women. If a woman becomes pregnant, smoking increases her risk of miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to have babies with asthma, sleeping disorders and chronic ear infections than non-smoking mothers. The menstrual cycle phase has an effect on both mood and tobacco withdrawal symptoms for women trying to quit smoking -- a finding that clearly suggests that women could improve their success rate simply by starting their quit attempt during certain days of their cycle.
Cosmetic and Other Considerations
Ironically, teens and young women often think smoking is sexy and glamorous. However, the consequences — such as stained fingers and teeth, tooth loss, gum disease, bad breath — are anything but sexy and glamorous. Smoking also hastens the aging process most likely because of its adverse effect on estrogen. It can cause early menopause, facial wrinkling, and permanent voice lowering and urinary incontinence.
Old Habits Die Hard
Women and girls are not only more susceptible than men to the negative consequences of smoking they are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes even when smoking comparable amounts.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to a man…and woman. Researchers are studying gender differences in smoking behavior and working to develop treatment plans that will help more women end their nicotine addiction. In fact, nicotine is considered more addictive than heroin or cocaine. And nicotine is more addictive for women than men.
The highly addictive nature of nicotine is a major reason why most people have difficulty quitting smoking, and women have a harder time quitting than men. Another thing that makes quitting difficult for women is the weight gain that, unfortunately, often accompanies quitting smoking. On the other hand, the weight gain, which rarely exceeds five pounds, can be reversed by a healthy diet and exercise.
More importantly, quitting smoking can also reverse many of the deadly consequences of the habit.
Weighing the Benefits
A woman who stops smoking reduces her risk of stroke to pre-smoking levels. Within a year, her smoking-related risk of heart disease drops by 50 percent. After three years, the risk of a heart attack is no greater than for a woman who never smoked. Within five years, her smoking-related risk of heart disease can disappear altogether. Clearly, the benefits of quitting outweigh the possibility of any weight gain. So think again...Are we going the right way?