Smoking Risks For Women

BBC Website
August 2007
Many of the diseases caused by smoking, such as heart disease and lung cancer, are seen as 'male' diseases. But the number of women dying from such preventable illnesses is on the rise.

Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable cancer deaths in the UK. Each year it causes around 32,000 deaths from lung cancer and thousands from other cancers - it's thought to be a factor in one in four cancer deaths.

Just one or two cigarettes a day are more than enough to cause lung cancer

The more you smoke, the greater your risk. However, just one or two cigarettes a day are more than enough to cause lung cancer. Chronic lung disease is also common among older smokers, destroying busy and active lives.

Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease. And if you smoke and take the contraceptive pill, your risk of heart disease is 30 times that of a non-smoker.

Smoking affects your skin too. It ages more quickly in smokers, with the early appearance of wrinkles and thinning of the skin.
Benefits of quitting

The good news is, many of the benefits of quitting smoking are immediate. Food will taste better and your breathing will become easier.
Even if you've smoked for 30 years, your risk of heart disease will halve within a year of stopping.

There are financial benefits of quitting too. Assuming a packet of 20 cigarettes costs £5.30 and you smoke a packet a day, a year's supply of cigarettes will cost around £1,930. A lifetime of smoking (say 40 years, if you're lucky enough to live that long) means sending more than £77,000 up in smoke.

How To Quit

* Make a plan. Decide your quit date, detail how you'll react to temptations, even make a list of the pros and cons of smoking to keep on track.
* Get motivated. Imagine the Mediterranean beach you could be basking on with all the money saved from kicking the habit, or set your own goal or treat.
* Get support from your GP and, most important, from your family and friends.
* Join a proper stop-smoking program. These have the highest quit rates. If you're able to take advantage of psychological support, counselling or nicotine replacement therapies (such as gums and patches) you'll have about a one in three chance of stopping for at least a year.

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