Dangers of Smoking for Women

Each year more research comes out to indicate how smoking combustible cigarettes is more dangerous than we had previously understood.

While most people are aware there are health risks with associated with smoking, many of us probably don’t understand the full gravity of these implications.

CDC statistics show that 15.3% of women are cigarette smokers compared to 20.5% of adult men, but all smokers may not be affected equally.

According to research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, higher levels of estrogen in lung tissue DOUBLES women’s risk of lung cancer, compared to men.

According to Pulmonology Professor Diane Stover, head of the lung unit at Sloan-Ketering Cancer Center in New York, “Men and women deal with these carcinogens differently. […] They are transformed into other carcinogenic substances.

These could lead to mutations in tumor-suppressing genes or ‘cell suicide’.” A study of Japanese cancer patients showed that female smokers also developed lung cancer on average two years earlier than their male counterparts.

According to research compiled by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “Women smokers have a higher relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men. The reasons for the difference are not yet known, but could be due to tobacco smoke having an adverse effect on estrogen”.

This same report shows that in 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. The American Lung Association indicates that more women are infected with COPD than men, 7 million in total, but that many are misdiagnosed as asthmatics.

These examples only encompass a fraction of what we know cigarettes can contribute to. While the jury may still be out as to which gender is more greatly affected by smoking, no one can reasonably indicate either is safe, or even relatively safer, than the other.

Interestingly, in a study published by Dr. Kelly Cosgrove and other colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine for the Archive of General Psychiatry, researchers found that male smokers have a higher number of nicotine receptors than male nonsmokers.

Female smokers on other hand, had the same number of nicotine receptors as nonsmokers. In short, women aren’t really addicted to the nicotine. The conclusion indicates that in treating female smokers, nicotine replacement therapy is generally ineffective.

Dr. Len Horovitz, pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in N.Y., indicated that deep breathing is part of the smoking habit, and that breathing exercises may help smokers because they “mimic puffing a cigarette”.

Recommendations for smoking cessation for women include exercise, relaxation techniques, or non-nicotine containing medications. That there is such a distinction between genders is probably more surprising for many than the finding itself.

Perhaps for many women simply having access to this knowledge could be what is needed to take that final step toward quitting. Maybe vaping is what would most be needed to bridge the gap between those women who have quit, and “can’t”.

Before cloud chasing, before the hobby, before anything else vaping encompasses now, quitting smoking has always been the single most important component. Vaping is the means to an end.