Smoking affects women
We all know smoking is injurious to health, and it can cause lung cancer, bladder cancer, head and neck cancer and heart attacks. The risk of smoking is well known, and millions of smokers try to quit. We are still finding out many new, harmful effects of
Two such studies were recently published.
Female smokers may be more likely to develop lung cancer than men who smoke a similar amount, new study findings suggest. The investigators found that of nearly 2,500 men and women age 40 and older screened for lung cancer, women had more than twice the risk of being diagnosed with the disease.
In the study, 1,202 women and 1,288 men underwent computed tomography (CT) scans to screen for lung cancer. Follow-up testing confirmed 45 cases of lung cancer among women and 20 among men.
Some past research has suggested female smokers might be more susceptible to developing lung cancer, but other studies have failed to find such evidence. If further research confirms the current findings, it will be especially important for anti-smoking efforts to reach women and girls.
Another study suggests that active smoking raises a woman's risk of developing breast cancer considerably. The risk increases with smoking intensity and, to a lesser degree, duration. So far, smoking was not implicated as a cause of breast cancer. This study was well done and it was published in a reputable journal.
Dr. Reynolds, from the California Department of Health Services in Oakland, and colleagues examined breast cancer risk among 116,544 women in the ongoing California Teachers Study.
Between 1996 and 2000, 2,005 women developed invasive breast cancer, according to a report in the Jan. 7 issue of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The incidence of breast cancer was roughly 30 percent greater among active smokers.
According to Dr. Reynolds, "We also observed statistically significantly higher breast cancer risks in women who started smoking at a younger age, who began smoking at least five years before their first full-term pregnancy, or who had longer or more intensive smoking histories."
Recently, in a science fair, I saw a project in a Petri dish that showed exposure to smoking can cause normal breast cells to convert to cancerous cells. This also confirms the above-mentioned study.
In short, smoking increases the risk of breast cancer and it is also more harmful to women. I think significant resources should be directed at women to help them quit smoking, and also at the high school level before they start smoking.
Dr. Sunil Gandhi is a hematologist and oncologist. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. Send questions or comments to 521 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461 or call 746-0707.