From your health and wellness experts at Palmetto Health
Health, Heart Health, Women's Health
January 05, 2018

Impacts of smoking on women

Rebecca Napier, MD
Palmetto Heart
There is abundant research about the many harms of smoking – whether it’s the dangerous chemicals, the addictive properties or the damage smoking causes to the body. The effects of smoking can have a profound impact on your health and those around you. 

Here are some facts about smoking and its impact on women’s health.
  1. Smoking causes coronary artery disease, cancer and stroke – the first, second and fourth leading causes of death for women in the United States.  
  2. Smoking cigarettes causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Women who smoke cigarettes are up to 40 times more likely to develop COPD than female nonsmokers. 
  3. The life expectancy of smokers, both male and female, is at least 10 years less than that of nonsmokers.
  4. Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in nonsmoking adults and children. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.  
  5. Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it is used in. This includes chewing tobacco, “light” cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping.  

Why quit now?

Smoking is what the CDC terms a “modifiable risk factor.” This means the benefits to a women’s health from quitting smoking are enormous and immediate.  
  • After quitting, heart attack risk drops dramatically in the first year.  
  • Within five years women who have quit can see their stroke risk drop to that of a person who has never smoked.  
  • In 10 years, a women’s risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

Where to start?

There are many support programs and cessation tools available, including nicotine replacement products such as gums and patches, prescription medications and free coaching. Most people find a combination of resources works best.  

Women who want to quit smoking should ask their doctor for help. Palmetto Health offers a free smoking cessation program for residents of Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Sumter counties. You can also find free resources available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visiting women.smokefree.gov.

Many smokers do not quit on their first attempt, and that’s okay. Most people need several tries to successfully quit.  

Encourage the women in your life to put their own health first by finding a method to quit that works for them. The benefits to you and your family are well worth it.


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