Women and Smoking – The Cruel Truth

Female Health: Women and Smoking

Women who smoke find it more difficult to quit than their male counterparts. Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine found that a woman’s brain responds to nicotine receptors that support the smoking habit in a different way.

Nicotine receptors in the brain increase in number in both genders. Researchers were surprised to find that while male smokers had more receptors than male non-smokers; women who smoked had almost the same number of nicotine receptors as non-smokers.

The researchers discovered that higher progesterone levels were linked with fewer nicotine receptors. Female progesterone levels fluctuate dependent upon the stage of her menstrual cycle. This led the researchers to suspect that progesterone may block nicotine receptors.

Women and SmokingThis study was a real breakthrough in smoking cessation therapy. Rather than nicotine gum or patches, alternative therapies may benefit women who are trying to quit smoking, such as deep relaxation techniques or medications that do not contain nicotine.

In the US alone, an estimated 173,490 female deaths are caused annually by smoking related diseases.

If you’re a female who is considering quitting smoking, but can’t find the “right” time, perhaps the following health facts will help clarify your decision.

Lung Cancer – is the number one cause of female death from cancer, accounting for about 25% of all cancer deaths among women. It exceeds breast cancer, which was the leading cause of death among females.

Hormones – Smoking can interrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle and also cause her to start menopause earlier. This explains why the aging process is faster in women who smoke.

Reproduction Issues – On the opposite end of the spectrum, women who smoke are at greater risk for complications during and after pregnancy. Conditions such as fertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and low weight babies can be indirect results of smoking. Also, female risk of cervical cancer is doubled.

Appearance – premature wrinkles, oral cancers and periodontal disease can result from smoking.

Cardiovascular Disease – risk of stroke and heart disease are heightened. Statistics from the American Heart Association state that heart disease is tripled among middle aged women who smoke vs. non-smoking middle-aged women.

Oxford University researchers did a 12-year study of one million women smokers that demonstrated women who quit smoking can drastically reduce their odds for premature death. Stopping smoking before age 40 will decrease the risk of premature death by almost 90%. Those who quit by age 30 lowered their risk of premature death by 97%.

The takeaway message is – it’s never too late to stop smoking

Useful Resources:

Wikipedia women and smoking

Tennessee Department of Health

Smoking can affect your baby’s health

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