A long time ago I took one drag on a cigarette and vowed never to touch another one again. It made me cough and I felt terrible. My sister used to smoke but then she stopped. I have a cousin who used to smoke and her lips looked black. I used to work with a woman who smoked while she was pregnant. I have to admit that although I don’t like seeing anyone smoke because it’s not good for your health, I dislike seeing women smoke even more.
In the movies they make it look glamourous. Bette Davis looked sophisticated with a cigarette in her hand in Now Voyager. It seemed so romantic when Paul Henreid lit both cigarettes and give her one.
Smoking is anything but romantic or glamourous. It is dangerous for your health. Sadly, despite the many warnings that cigarettes can cause cancer and increase our risk of heart disease, approximately 23 million women in the US (23 percent of the female population) still smoke cigarettes. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in this country, yet more than 140,000 women die each year from smoking related causes. The highest rate of smoking (27 percent) occurs among women between twenty-five and forty-four (http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/azhealthtopics/a/smokingeffects.htm).
The most common side effects of smoking are:
Pulmonary and Respiratory Disorders: Smoking increases your risk of developing a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The lung damage that occurs from pulmonary disease is not often reversible. However, if you do quit smoking your lung function will not decline further, and you may notice an improvement in coughing and breathing.
Cardiovascular disease: Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease in the United States. Women who smoke more than double their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Immediately stopping smoking can result in instant improvement in your cardiovascular function and a reduced risk of heat disease. After smoking cessation has continued for at least a year, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease drops by 50 percent. Your risk continues to decline the more years you remain smoke free. Some studies suggest the heart attack risk for smoker’s drops to that of nonsmokers after two years of cessation.
Cancer: Cigarette smoking contributes to developing several different kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the esophagus, mouth, bladder and pancreas. Smoking cessation can improve your survival rate and reduce your risk of developing severe cancers resulting from smoking.
Osteoporosis: Smoking contributes to bone loss, thus increases a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis. 10 years after smoking cessation a woman’s excess risk for osteoporosis declines significantly.
Breast Cancer: Women who smoke are more at risk for breast cancer. In fact, the risk of developing fatal forms of breast cancer is 75 percent higher for women who smoke than those that do not. The number of cigarettes a woman smokes per day can affect their breast cancer survival rate.
Vulvar Cancer: Women who smoke are also 48 percent more likely to develop a rare form of vulvar cancer.
Smoking may also contribute to many other diseases and problems. It is especially dangerous to pregnant women. Babies exposed to smoking mothers are often born with birth defects and low birth weights. Mothers who smoke are also more at risk for miscarriage, premature rupture of the membranes and placenta previa. Babies born to mothers that smoke often experience withdrawal symptoms during the first week of life. Over time smoking also contribute to skin wrinkling and may even reduce your sexual ability. Quitting smoking improves all of these conditions immediately (http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/smoking_and_women.htm).
Women are more at risk for certain problems related to smoking than men are. Women who use oral contraceptives or other hormonal forms of birth control are especially at risk for developing serious side effects. Women using hormones who smoke increase their risk of developing life threatening blood clots and strokes.
Women who smoke typically have reduced fertility. Studies suggest that women who smoke are 3.4 times more likely to experience problems conceiving than those who do not. This may be because of a decreased ovulatory response. In some women the egg had trouble implanting when the mother smokes.
Smoking also affects women’s normal cyclical changes, including those that occur during menopause and menstruation. Women who start smoking during their teen years are more at risk for developing early menopause than women who do not smoke. Smokers may also experience more menstrual problems including abnormal bleeding or amenorrhea than women who don’t smoke. This may be because smoking often lowers levels of estrogens in the body (http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/smoking_and_women.htm).
Now that we know the risks of smoking, let’s look at some tips that will help women to quit. I came across an article on How to Quit Cold Turkey written by a woman who used to smoke. Note these tips are only for women who wish to quit smoking cold turkey. There are three things you will need:
- A willingness to Quit
- Some gum
- A team of Support
Other steps to quit smoking are:
Think about the positive health changes that will take place after you stop smoking.
Make improvements in your appearance part of your plan. Aim for a sweeter smelling and better looking you.
Get rid of all your cigarettes and put a healthy snack in your mouth instead of a cigarette when you get the urge to smoke. Also replace smoking with an activity you enjoy engaging in or can benefit from to help you quit.
Talk to your doctor about taking medicine to help you stop smoking. Ask him if you are healthy enough to use the patch, nasal spray, inhaler, gum or lozenges, and find out which of these products he thinks is best for you. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/178278-how-women-can-quit-smoking/#ixzz1F868POZ5
I have a friend who used to smoke. She quit because she read in her Bible, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). She looks much better since she quit.
If you are a woman who smokes, quitting may be the hardest thing for you to do but it will be the best thing in the long run. You will feel better–more energetic and able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded. And you will have a clear mind. Plan to quit today. You can do it!