Fearing fat, Brazil's women remain hooked on smoking
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A national obsession with the body beautiful may be damaging Brazilian women's health.
In a country renowned for its sexy supermodels and revealing beachwear, up to 90 percent of Brazilian women who smoke may be afraid of giving up the habit in case they put on weight, according to a recent medical study.
The study, by the Sao Paulo Heart Hospital, showed many women choose to smoke to suppress their appetite.
"What makes a person eat too much is anxiety and if she begins to smoke, the attention is diverted to the cigarette and away from food," said Silvia Cury Ismael, coordinator of the study carried out among 100 smokers--half of them women--over the past year.
Brazilian women show more resistance to quit smoking than men. The National Cancer Institute found that the number of male smokers dropped by 14.7 percent in Rio de Janeiro between 1989 and 2000, while women smokers declined just 3.5 percent. An estimated 30.6 million of Brazil's 170 million people smoke, the institute reported.
Tais Thormann, a 23-year-old model from the same region as the world-famous beauty Gisele Bundchen, backed up the study's findings.
"I know smoking is bad, but I don't want to stop because it makes me lose weight," said Thormann. "When I am hungry, I go for a cigarette and a little coffee."