It’s estimated that about 18 percent of women in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. That’s nearly one out of every five! Smoking is the number one preventable cause for strokes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, yet every year tobacco-related diseases kill an estimated 170,000 women in the U.S.
It’s not just risk of premature death that you have to worry about (though that should be enough of a deterrent). Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema, and women account for more than half of the deaths caused by that disease. Moreover, smoking can cause reproductive problems like infertility, miscarriage or premature birth and can even cause female smokers to experience menopause at a younger age. And of course, smoking can have drastic effects on your looks – from wrinkles and age spots to stained teeth.
While breaking an addiction like smoking is difficult, if you can quit while you are healthy, your body can begin to heal itself almost immediately:
- After only 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal
- After three months, your circulation improves and your hands and feet become warmer
- After one year, your risk of heart disease drops to one-half of that of current smokers
A recent study demonstrated that women who quit smoking even into their 40s and 50s can still reclaim some of the health benefits enjoyed by non-smokers. If you are able to quit smoking before the age of 40, the increased risk of dying prematurely is reduced by nearly 90 percent; if you can quit before the age of 30, you can remove up to 97 percent of that risk. So don’t put it off! Check out the links below for ways to get started.