Why Cigarettes are a Woman's Worst Enemy
Here are some compelling reasons to quit smoking.
Smoking Ages You
You've probably noticed that smokers develop wrinkles earlier than
nonsmokers. What often goes unnoticed is that smoking hastens menopause by one
to two years. "Nicotine interferes with the blood supply to the ovary, and
if you decrease blood supply to any organ, you decrease its function," says
Sandra Carson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College
of Medicine in Houston. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, which "could
explain why smoking brings on earlier menopause," Carson says. Cigarettes
can lead to early osteoporosis, too, adds Carson: many studies have shown
smoking significantly reduces bone mineral density.
Cigarettes Go to Your Heart
A woman who smokes is two to six times more likely to have a heart attack
than one who doesn't, according to the National Institutes of Health. One to
four cigarettes a day is enough to double your risk of heart disease, says the
ACOG. And a Finnish study published in the July 1998 British Medical
Journal found that female smokers are twice as likely to have a heart
attack after age 65 as male smokers. Researchers believe estrogen -- which
smoking apparently inhibits -- helps protect women against heart disease.
And remember that your behavior sets an example for your daughter or any
girl in your life. "The rate of high school girls who are smoking is now on
par with that of boys," says Wanda Jones, a spokeswoman for the National
Women's Health Information Center. "This is not the kind of equality for
women our mothers and grandmothers envisioned."