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June Russell's Health Facts

Smoking - Women

Couples are more likely to have girl than a boy if either of the partners smoked heavily while they were trying to conceive, new research in the Lancet medical journal suggests. Some scientists consider the ratio of male to female births to be an indicator of a population's health, because male sperm and embryos are more fragile than their female counterparts. Normally, boys have a slight edge over girls, with almost 52% of all babies born worldwide being male. The balance tends to even out later in life because females are better at survival. However, the number of males has been declining in several industrial countries over the past few decades and researchers suspect toxic substances may be partly to blame. ("Study: Smokers more likely to have girls," The Daily Progress newspaper, Charlottesville, Virginia, April 19, 2002. London)   Editor's comment: One pack a day is considered heavy smoking.

Women fear breast cancer more than lung cancer, yet lung cancer kills three times as many women as breast cancer. (HealthCentral - Reuters Health -June 2000)

Women who smoke are more likely to get lung cancer, and 23,000 more women will die of lung cancer than breast cancer. In general, women have a harder time quitting than men and women’s lung cancer rates more than doubled between 1974 and 1994).“Women and Lung Cancer,” Washington Post Health, Oct. 1998)

The American Health Foundation in New York, found that women who smoke are more likely to have lung cancer and heart attacks than men who smoke. (Living Fit magazine, Jan./Feb. 1997)

Lung cancer is fatal for 86 percent of its victims within 5 years of diagnosis, and is now the leading cause of cancer death among women. It will kill some 70,000 women this year - more than breast and cervical cancer combined. Lung cancer in women was practically unheard of 50 years ago, and since then it has increased by more than 400 percent. Currently, about one in four women smokes. Lung cancer doesn't generate a lot of media coverage, and they aren't demanding research dollars like the breast cancer victims, because they aren't alive to do so. The nicotine in cigarettes eases women’s stress and anxiety levels more profoundly than it does for men. There is no safe level of smoking, and social smoking can lead to regular smoking. Postmenopausal women who smoke 1 or more packs of cigarettes a day are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than others who do not smoke. (Health After 50, Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Nov. 1997)

Lung cancer is virulent, only 14% of women who get it are alive 5 years later after diagnosis, compared to 67% who survive at least 10 years with breast cancer. (“Good Question,” by Nancy Snyderman, M.D., Health magazine, May 1999)

Women who smoke are twice as likely to become incontinent. (Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D., in Parade magazine, June 27, 1999)

Smoking decreases physical fitness and vitality so that smokers tend to be physiologically 8 years older than their chronological age. (ASH Review, Jan./Feb. 1995)

Women who smoke cigarettes have a much greater risk (5 times greater) of developing genital warts. Smoking suppresses infection-fighting cells, allowing the virus to run rampant. (Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reuters Health, March 1997)

Over 1,200 abortions annually, on Denmark alone, could be avoided if women on the pill quit smoking. Nicotine in tobacco breaks down the pill’s hormone content, thereby reducing their effectiveness. (‘Smoking causes pregnancies,’ ASH, Sept.-Oct. 2000)

Women smokers, age 60 and over, appear to have twice the risk of developing lung cancer as men smokers of the same age. (The Washington Post Health, Nov. 2, 1999)

Women, take note: Smoking is not an equal-opportunity addiction. Female smokers are up to twice as likely as male smokers to suffer strokes, heart attacks and lung cancer. Smoking is linked to low birth weight babies, severe PMS and early menopause - and it is harder for women to quit smoking. Husband’s offer less support for their addicted wives than wives do for their husbands. Have you really come such a long way, baby? (“Smoking Worse for Women,” Health Notes, Consumer Reports on Health, June 2001

Women now account for 39% of smoking-related deaths, a proportion that has doubled since 1965. Lung cancer was once rare among women, is now the top female cancer killer, claiming 27,000 MORE lives each year than breast cancer. Worse, more teenage girls are smoking. Additional risks: dangerous blood clots among users of birth control pills, menstrual irregularities, earlier menopause, infertility, bone-thinning osteoporosis, and cervical cancer. (ASH Smoking and Review, March-April 2001)

Smoking speeds up an enzyme that metabolizes the pill and can cause incidents of break-through bleeding, and smoking is associated with a higher pill failure rate. (Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., Natural Health magazine, April 2001)

Scientists have long warned that American smokers are two to three times more likely to get bladder cancer than nonsmokers, but women face a higher rate of bladder cancer and lung cancer than men. It seems that women either activate or detoxify the chemicals differently than men do. (‘Study suggests women smokers at higher risk for bladder cancer,” (AP) - April 2001)

Today 22 percent of women smoke, compared to 26 percent of men. (In 1924, just 6 percent of U.S. women smoked). Smoking is 3 times higher among women who had only 9 to 11 years of education (33%); those who have completed 4 years of college (11.2%); and 80 percent of those who smoke began when they were children. We are losing our mothers, grandmothers, our sisters and wives too soon because they have smoked. On an average women who smoke die 14 years prematurely. The tobacco industry pours more than $8 billion annually into advertising, and deliberately targets women. (“Surgeon General warns of smoking peril to US women,” Reuters, - April 2001)

In women, nicotine tends to calm and reduce aggression. In men it promotes aggression and triggers anxiety. These differences explain why many women find it more difficult than men to quit smoking. (Sandra File, PhD, professor of psychopharmacology, Centre for Neuroscience, King’s College, London, in Bottom Line Health newsletter, April 2001)

Lung cancer will kill approximately 65,000 women in the U.S., this year. Twenty-three million American women smoke and are 1.5 times more likely to develop lung cancer than men. (“Lung Cancer, the Deadliest Cancer - the most preventable cancer,” -April 2001)

Smoking is a major risk factor for breast cancer among women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Smoking boosts cancer causing chemicals in the blood, and they can cause mutations in the DNA of breast cells. (“Cigarette smoking linked to breast cancer risk,” Reuters Health, May 2001)

In a woman who smokes, the estrogen is broken down at double the rate of nonsmoking women. When smoking, over 500 of the hazardous toxic substances are secreted into the breast tissue ducts and present a danger to the breast lining. (in the book, “How to Reduce your Risk of breast Cancer, by Jon Michnovic, M.D., and Ph.D., director of the Foundation for Prevention Oncology, 1994)

Women are 4 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women who don't use tobacco, and women seem to be more vulnerable to lung cancer than are men. Women tobacco users are at an increased risk of facial wrinkles, gum inflammation and cancers of the lips and mouth. (“Smoking particularly dangerous for women,” Reuters Health, - Nov. 2000)

Women being treated with radiation for cervical cancer face a greatly increased risk of serious complications if they smoke cigarettes, according to a new study at the University of Texas Cancer Center in Houston. And the more they smoke, the more the risk increases. (“Smoking ups risk of radiation therapy complications,” Reuters Health, - Nov. 2000)

Female smokers have nearly twice the risk of developing early-onset rheumatoid arthritis as their non-smoking counterparts say researchers from the Iowa Women’s Health Study. (“Smoking heightens women’s arthritis risk,” Reuters Health, - Nov. 2000)

Smoking increases women’s stroke risk. (Reuters, March 1997)

Women smokers, age 60 and over, appear to have twice the risk of developing lung cancer as men smokers of the same age. (The Washington Post Health, Nov. 2, 1999)

Studies show that women who use tobacco have a 50% higher risk of osteoporosis than nonsmokers. (“Healthy Living,” McCall’s, April 2000)

23,000 more women will die of lung cancer than breast cancer and, in general women have a harder time quitting than men. (“Women and Lung Cancer,” Washington Post Health, Oct. 1998)

Smoking, which causes the liver to metabolize estrogen faster than normal, increases osteoporosis risk. Tobacco use also leads to increased risk of early menopause which can accelerate bone weakness - one of the many reasons not to smoke. (“Your Health,” Energy Times magazine, 1998)


Paternal smoking causes cancer in his offspring. Free radicals, cancer-causing agents that can be found in smoke, can actually alter sperm DNA, increasing the affected cells’ susceptibility to cancer. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Feb. 5, 1997, in Delicious! magazine, July 1997)

Half of the pregnancies are unplanned, a much higher proportion than in most other developed countries. (Univ. of Calf., Berkeley Wellness Letter, May 1998)

There is a study that supports a connection between maternal smoking during pregnancy and limb defects in their babies. (Reuters 1997)

Among women, mothers with less than a high school education are 10 times more likely to smoke during pregnancy than mothers with 4 years of college (smoking is a risk factor for low-birth-weight infants). (Myths of the Uninsured,” Newsweek, Nov. 8, 1999)

After the mother’s use of nicotine there is a 30 minute reduction in fetal “breathing.’ It takes 90 minutes for it to recover to normal. 20% of pregnant women continue to smoke (U.S.). (“Dying to Quit,” 1998 book by Janet Brigham)

Women who smoke during pregnancy (10 cigarettes a day or more) substantially increase the likelihood that their child will develop certain psychiatric disorders during adolescence, namely behavioral problems if it is a boy (more than 4 times the risk) and drug abuse problems if it is a girl (more than 5 times the risk). (Columbia University study - Reuters Health on - 2000)

At least 6,200 children die each year in the U.S. because of their parents’ smoking - killed by such things as lung infections and burns. In addition, some 5.4 million other youngsters each year survive ailments such as ear infections and asthma that are triggered by their parents’ smoking, and these problems cost $4.6 billion annually. 2,800 of these deaths are due to low birth weight caused by mothers who smoke while pregnant. Low birth-weight babies are frail and vulnerable to many ills, including respiratory distress syndrome, bleeding in the brain and blood infections. About 2,000 of the deaths are from sudden infant death (SIDS) caused by secondhand tobacco smoke. About 250 children die from fires caused by cigarettes, matches or lighters - and 14 die from asthma. (“Parent’s smoking kills 6,200 children yearly,” AP - Daily Progress, July 15, 1997)

In about 4 million births in the U.S. in 1996, 13% reported to have smoked during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with a cleft lip or palate - up to 70% if they smoke more than 21 cigarettes per day (1-10 cigarettes per day - 30%). In addition the risks include prematurity and low birth weight. Any amount of smoking during pregnancy is detrimental to the newborn. (Reuters Health, HealthCentral, April 4, 2000)

A study showed that a powerful cancer-causing chemical (NNAL) in cigarettes was found in the wombs of expectant women. (ASH - May-June 2000)

Those women who smoked during pregnancy were 50% more likely to give birth to retarded children (an I.Q. of less than 70), those who smoked 1 pack a day had an 85% chance of birthing a retarded child. (Pediatrics for April 1996. In Alternative Medicine Digest, Spring/Summer 1997)

The offspring of smokers may be at higher risk of cancer later in life(April issue of the journal ‘Prenatal Diagnosis’). This is added to the miserable lists of potential smoking related-problems like the greater likelihood of death around the time of birth, miscarriage, low birth weight, and failure of proper growth is an ominous risk of later adult health problems. (“Fetuses of smokers bathed in carcinogen,” Reuters Health, HealthCentral, April 4, 2000)

Infants who died of SIDS were more than 5 x as likely as other babies to have two parents who smoked. About 2 out of 3 SIDS deaths could be prevented if mothers did not smoke during or after pregnancy. (Reuters, Yahoo News, May 25, 1997)

Smoking during pregnancy is known to cause health problems, like asthma, for infants. A new study shows that it may also lead to behavior problems. Researchers say toddlers born to mothers who smoked while expecting are four times more likely to have negative behaviors than children born to nonsmoking mothers. The negative behaviors include rebelliousness, risk-taking and impulsiveness. About 20% of pregnant women smoke in the U.S. They give birth to about 800,000 babies each year. (CBS HealthWatch by Medscape, June 2000)

Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have sign of impaired lung function, and may have a higher than average risk of lung cancer and heart disease in adulthood. (Study of over 3,000 school children. HealthCentral - Reuters Health, March 2000)

A study supports a connection between maternal smoking during pregnancy and limb defects. (Reuters, Feb. 1997)

Smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of your child’s developing attention deficit disorder (ADD). (American Journal of Psychiatry, Living Fit magazine, July 1997)

Nicotine and other tobacco products are known to cross the placenta and it may affect brain of the fetus. Smoking during pregnancy is known to have a long range of effects on children, from making them prone to conduct disorder, language and reading difficulties to affecting their lung function in later years. Studies suggest that the children of smokers may be more likely to smoke. (Reuters, HealthCentral, May 9, 2000)

Smoking during pregnancy is linked to disruptive and even criminal behavior in the child years later. The more a woman smoked, the worse her child’s tantrums, impulsive behavior and risk taking. (“Terrible Twos worse if the mother smoked during pregnancy,” Reuters Health - HealthCentral, April 13, 2000)

Maternal smoking annually causes as many as 100,000 miscarriages and stillborns, tens of thousands of admissions to intensive care units, and extensive brain damage. (Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics study in ASH newsletter, May/June 1998)

Smoking moms up the child’s risk for eczema. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy may cause some type of immunologic change in the fetus that continues into childhood. (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1997) Reuters, April 1997)

Smoking is linked to later mental impairment. Of more than 3,000 people whose mental abilities were measured at about age 77, those who had remained continuous smokers and those that had quit at or after late middle-age had lower mental scores than people who never smoked cigarettes. (American Journal of Epidemiology, 1997. Reuters, March 1997)

When pregnant women smoke, nicotine in their blood permanently changes the brain of the developing fetus, rendering it unusually susceptible to the addictive influence of nicotine more than a decade after birth. (American Journal of Public Health, in Health Gazette newsletter, Jan. 1995)

A mother who smokes during her pregnancy may more than triple her child’s risk for ear infection (between 1-9 cigarettes - 60%; 10-19 - 260%; over 20 - 330%). Children born to heavy smokers (over a pack/day) had nearly 3x the likelihood of undergoing ear surgery during their first 5 years of life when compared to nonsmokers. Ear infections are connected to an increase prevalence of speech and language difficulties, attention disorders, and learning difficulty. (“Smoking in pregnancy ups baby’s ear infection risk,” Reuters Health - Health Central, August 3, 1999)

It is no secret that smoking during pregnancy harms the fetus, but a study speculates that smoking harms fetal nervous systems, leading to impulsive behavior. (“Smoke-filled Wombs,” Newsweek, March 29, 1999)

Parents smoking kills nearly 3,000 babies each year because they are often of lower weight which results in babies being frail and vulnerable to many ills. (The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Va., July 15, 1997)


Women who smoke have an earlier and more difficult menopause. Stopping smoking would help hot flashes. (Andrew Weil, M.D., Self Healing newsletter, April 1997)

Smoking quadruples the breast cancer risk in older women that have the slow-acting form of an enzyme that detoxifies the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Approximately half of white menopausal American women have this form of the enzyme - 90 percent of those Middle Eastern descent -African and Asian are less likely to have it. (“Smoking quadruples breast cancer risk in many women,” Reuters, Yahoo -1996)

Postmenopausal women who smoke 1 or more packs of cigarettes a day are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than others. (Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, “Health after 50,” Nov. 1997)

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