Before the middle of the 20th century, few women smoked, and the practice was considered to be uncouth. Men could smoke and look sophisticated, but a woman with a cigar or a cigarette was bad news. The cultural taboo has changed, however, and more women are smoking from a younger age than ever before. How does smoking affect a woman’s health, and what can be done to stop it?
What Are the Health Risks of Smoking in Women?
Smoking is bad for everyone, and women in particular are vulnerable and at risk if they smoke even on occasion. Some of the many health risks of smoking are described here:
- Heart disease. Women who smoke double their risk of heart attack and cardiac disease – one of the biggest killers of both men and women today.
- Lung cancer. In the 1980′s, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the greatest cancer risk for women. More than 80% of lung cancer incidences are directly related to smoking in women.
- Stroke. As with heart disease, women who smoke, particularly from a young age, have at least twice the risk of suffering a stroke as non-smoking women.
- Pulmonary Disease. Women who smoke increase their risk of dying or encountering serious health problems from asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (commonly called COPD) and chronic bronchitis.
- Other forms of cancer. Women who smoke are more likely to develop cancer of the cervix, the oral cavity, kidneys, bladder, and larynx.
- Aging and cosmetic issues. We all know the typical smoker’s look – prematurely wrinkled skin, yellowed fingers and teeth, and rough-textured hair. These are all effects of smoking, along with increased risk of age-related diseases such as osteoporosis.
How do I go about quitting cigars and cigarettes?
First of all, see your doctor. He or she is your best source of advice on how to go about quitting. Your physician can prescribe medications to help you quit, or recommend some of the better over the counter remedies. You may be able to join a support group, and your doctor can let you know of any in your area. Some simple lifestyle changes can also help ease your way to becoming a non-smoker.
Lifestyle Changes to Quit Smoking
- Exercise is vital to your health, and it will help control your nicotine cravings while you quit. It will also help you keep away the extra pounds you may be likely to put on, and it will improve lung and heart function at the same time.
- Eat right, and follow the FDA food pyramid. In other words, stay away from sweets and fats, eat whole grains and fresh produce, and avoid red meat. Consume lean protein, plenty of calcium, and drink lots of water.
- Destress – it will help you cope with the tension you may feel while you quit and help restore your body’s natural healing functions. Listen to soothing music, or try something like tai chi or yoga.
- Take your vitamins – they will help replenish the vital nutrients lost through women smoking cigarettes and cigars.
- Avoid drugs and limit alcohol, which is linked with smoking as a social behavior.