Women and Smoking
The health effects of smoking are extremely serious. Men and women share many of the same health effects from smoking, including cancers of the lung, colon, pancreas, bladder, kidneys, mouth and throat (oral and pharyngeal), liver, esophagus, and larynx. Women also develop other smoking‑related illnesses such as breast cancer. Smoking increases the risk of infertility, menstrual problems, and cancer of the cervix. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women. The risk doubles as a result of smoking. Lung cancer, a key smoking‑related disease, now exceeds breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among women.
- Second-hand smoke and inhaled tobacco have been shown to cause breast cancer.
- One out of two smokers will eventually die from smoking‑related causes.
- Exposure to second‑hand smoke is also a serious health hazard. Women are much more likely than men to be exposed to second‑hand smoke.
- Smoking promotes high cholesterol.
- Smoking is a powerful stimulant.
- Smoking is extremely addictive.
- Smoking causes gum disease, heart and circulatory disease, lung and other cancers (see above), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
There is no level of smoking that has been proven to be safe. All tobacco use carries some health risks. Smoking during pregnancy is dangerous for the fetus as well as for the pregnant woman. It increases the chances of low‑birth weight, preterm delivery, and reduced lung function. It is best to stop smoking before you plan to become pregnant. Smoking and second‑hand smoke are harmful before and during pregnancy, and after your baby is born. Cigarettes contain many chemicals that cross the placenta into the baby’s blood. If you are pregnant and smoke, now is the time for both you and your partner to reduce and stop smoking.
The best thing you can do is quit.
No one should smoke in your home. A smoke‑free home is important for your health and for everyone else in your family.
Help to Stop Smoking
To help you reduce and stop smoking:
- See your health care provider.
- Join a stop‑smoking program.
- Contact QuitNow by phone at 8-1-1 for free, confidential, no‑pressure counselling and support from trained specialists. Or you can visit the QuitNow BC website for online support.
- Call your public health office or HealthLinkBC at 8‑1‑1, or go to the HealthLink BC website, for information on local stop smoking programs.
- See the Health Link BC file Quitting Smoking: Preventing Slips or Relapses.
- Remember to not get discouraged – it may take more than one time to break the habit.
Check out the HealthLink BC interactive tool Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?