A dozen reasons women who smoke should consider stopping smoking.

August 11, 2016

We all know that smoking causes cancer, lung and heart disease, and stroke. What you may not know is that women that smoke are exposed to additional gender based health risks.

Smoking causes the following health problems for women who smoke:

  1. Decreased bone density

    Women who smoke tend to have a lower bone density after they go through menopause than women who do not smoke. This means they have a higher chance of breaking a hip than women who do not smoke.

  2. Menopause

    Women who smoke reach menopause almost two years earlier than non-smokers due to the anti-oestrogen effect of tobacco use. Menopausal smokers may experience worse symptoms of menopause, such as the hot flushes.

  3. Rheumatoid arthritis

    Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory, chronic disease where sufferers have swelling and pain in their joints. Research shows that women smokers are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who do not smoke.

  4. Depression

    Women have about twice the risk of developing depression than men. It is important that women who smoke are aware that there is also a link between smoking and depression suggesting that they are at any even greater risk for developing depression.

  5. Cataracts

    Women who smoke are more likely to get cataracts that affect their vision. Cataracts form when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy or foggy.

  6. Gum disease

    Smoking is linked to gum disease, which is a risk factor for bone and tooth loss.

  7. Menstrual problems

    Some studies have shown that women who smoke have more irregular and painful periods.

  8. Fertility

    Women who smoke have an increased risk of infertility and are more likely to take longer to get pregnant. Smoking affects each stage of the reproductive process, including egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport, and the environment in the uterus. It can also damage the DNA in both eggs and sperm.

  9. Pregnancy

    Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, low birth weight, and birth defects.
    Smoking increases a woman’s chance of experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage increases with the amount smoked (1% increase in risk per cigarette smoked per day).
    Studies show there is an increased risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome, also called “crib death”) in babies born to women smokers.

  10. Breathing

    Teen girls who smoke have lungs that don’t grow as much as non-smokers’ lungs, and adult women who smoke have lungs that don’t work as well as non-smokers’ lungs.

  11. Gynaecological Cancers

    Women who smoke are at an increased risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancers.

  12. Surgery

    Smokers tend to have more complications during and following surgery and their wound healing is poorer than non-smokers.
    The good news is that the health benefits of stopping smoking start within 20 minutes of the last cigarette smoked while your risk of coronary heart disease is halved within a year of quitting cigarettes. Detailed description of the health benefits on a stop smoking timeline.

For those that are trying to fall pregnant or are pregnant, there is some great news for you too!

  • Natural fertility starts to improve within months after quitting smoking.
  • Women who quit smoking before they get pregnant or within the first three months of pregnancy reduce their risks of their baby being born prematurely to be on par with non-smokers.
  • Women who stop smoking early in their pregnancy have babies with similar birth-weights to those of non-smokers.
  • Women who stop smoking before their third trimester can avoid much of the effect smoking has on birth-weight.
    Armed with all the reasons to stop smoking the next question is how do I stop smoking? You know that quitting cigarettes is not easy. You may have been unsuccessful in previous attempts to quit. You need help. The best way to quit smoking is by using a combination of behaviour change techniques, face-to-face support and stop smoking drugs such as nicotine replacement therapy. Evidence from a Cochrane Review shows that this form of combination treatment gives you the greatest chance of successfully stopping smoking.

Tips on stopping smoking

You can triple your chance of successfully stopping smoking by using a combination smoking cessation programme such as GoSmokefree. Visit www.gosmokefree.co.za or email info@gosmokefree.co.za for more information.


This article contains opinions and facts and references to other information sources. You should always consult a registered healthcare professional for any personal advice.

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