Women smokers pay the price of defiance
THE number of women suffering from a fatal lung disease triggered by cigarette smoking has nearly doubled in the past ten years.
Females are now more likely to be afflicted by chronic lung disease than male smokers, a study found.
Experts claim the rise in the incurable disease also known as COPD is the penalty being paid for their failure to follow the lead set by men and kick the habit.
They are warning that COPD rates in men peaked in the mid- Nineties but the 'full effects of smoking trends in women have yet to be seen and the rate of COPD will continue to rise'.
Although smoking rates have been slipping in recent years among both sexes 28 per cent of men smoke against 26 per cent of women they have fallen more slowly in women.
More teenage girls have started smoking than boys.
Lung cancer among women is also on the increase while cases among men are falling.
In the latest study, information on chronic lung disease was collected from 500 GP surgeries in England and Wales. Researchers studied 50,714 sufferers 23,277 of them women.
The disease leads to severely obstructed airflow in the delicate airways of the lungs. Some of it is attributable to the normal ageing process and the natural decline of the lungs but much is caused by the effects of smoking.
Doctors can only alleviate the painful symptoms.
Patients with a severe form of the disease die four years before their natural life expectancy.
Between January 1990 and the end of 1997, almost half of the 50,000 new cases of chronic lung disease were in women.
The prevalence of the condition in women almost doubled from 0.8 per cent to 1.35 per cent.
There was a substantial increase in rates of chronic lung disease in women aged 65 and older and rates among middle-aged women had caught up with older men by 1996.
In women under the age of 45, the rate exceeded that in men in the mid-1990s.
The study, reported in the medical journal Thorax, was carried out by experts in epidemiology at pharmacy giant Glaxo Wellcome.
Dr Melissa Hack, of the British Thoracic Society, said: 'This female lung disease epidemic is the result of smoking patterns in the Fifties and Sixties. Many of these women are innocent victims of the tobacco industry's sordid denials of the health effects of smoking.
'It is worrying that the number of teenage girls smoking is still too high.
They are the lung disease patients of tomorrow.
The Government must redouble its efforts to reduce tobacco use in teenagers.' firstname.lastname@example.org
NON-SMOKERS who work in smoky offices are more likely to take sick leave, according to a study. It also found that the longer workers are exposed to passive smoking, the greater their health problems are likely to be.
The research involved a survey of 10,000 people working for Hong Kong's police force. It found that non-smokers exposed to passive smoking were one-third more likely to have respiratory problems than non-smokers who worked in a smoke-free zone.
Researchers believe the findings will reinforce calls for tougher measures against smoking in the workplace.