While female smokers suffer all the consequences of smoking that men do such as increased risk of various cancers--lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, and bladder--and respiratory diseases, they need to be aware about the numerous smoking-related health risks that are unique to them:
- Smokers have up to an 80-percent greater risk of developing cervical cancer and a 40-percent higher risk of developing vulvar cancer.
- Breast cancer patients who smoke may increase their risk of dying by at least 25 percent, with the possible risk of fatal breast cancer rising to 75 percent for women who smoke two packs a day.
- Close to 20 percent of all pregnant women (about 400,000) per year smoke, and chemicals in tobacco are passed to the fetus through the blood stream, presenting serious risks to the unborn child as well as to the mother. Among them are pre-term delivery, low birth weight, premature rupture of membranes, miscarriage, and neonatal death. Newborns whose mothers smoked during pregnancy go through withdrawal from nicotine during their first days of life.
- Women who smoke face a serious increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke when using estrogens.
- Smoking causes a significant increase in the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs with 33 percent more frequency in women who smoke.
- Beginning to smoke as a teen-ager increases a woman's risk of early menopause three times.
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