By now, we are all aware that smoking is bad for you. Yet more and more women are taking up the habit, in part due to the media image presented of gorgeous women smoking cigarettes and presenting a glamourous image. What kind of effects does this have on women’s health, and what can we do about it?
Women and Smoking
In the early twentieth century, few women smoked cigarettes. Over the years, it became more acceptable for women to smoke and many developed the habit. Today, it is estimated that nearly 20% of women in the United States alone are smokers. While fewer women smoke than men, the gap has dwindled sharply, and women are just as much at risk for smoking related diseases.
What are the health effects of women smoking?
- Cigar smoking causes lung cancer. At least 80% of lung cancer deaths in women are caused by smoking; lung cancer is responsible for more women dying than breast cancer.
- Heart disease is another significant health risk for women who smoke. Smoking doubles the risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer for both men and women in the United States and many other industrialized countries.
- Other types of cancer: cigarette smoking increases the risk of women developing many types of cancer, including cervical cancer, cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, esophogus, bladder, and kidneys.
- Women who smoke are twice as likely as their non-smoking peers to suffer a stroke. The more cigarettes smoked per day, the greater the risk; studies also show that when a woman stops smoking, her risk of stroke is decreased over time.
- Respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are a major risk for women smokers.
- Premature aging. Smoking damages your bones, leading to increased risk of osteoporosis, and causes premature wrinkling of the skin. We all know that “smoker’s look” – yellowed hands and deep wrinkles, as well as roughly-textured hair.
What do I need to do to quit smoking?
The first step in quitting is to talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend programs to help you quit, as well as prescribe stop-smoking medications which can help you gradually wean yourself off the nicotine in cigarettes.
How can I improve my health if I am a smoker?
If you have decided to quit smoking, you are already on your way to better health. There are many things you can do to help ease the process and to improve your overall health and sense of wellbeing.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs.
- Practice stress management, such as yoga, meditation, or simply listening to your favorite music.
- Exercise. Getting plenty of exercise will help lower your stress levels and keep you away from the cigarettes. It will help prevent the risk of gaining weight while quitting and improve lung function.
- Eat a healthy diet. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will restore the balance of your system and improve your general health.
- Take vitamin supplements to restore vital nutrients that are needed to regenerate your body after smoking.
- Control Your Smoking habits