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Women who smoke face greater health risks than previously thought

Women and smoking

New, startling information about how smoking cigarettes can cut your life short, especially if you are a woman.

New studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that the risk for women has been under-appreciated for decades. Before now, it hasn’t been possible to gauge female smokers’ real risks because not enough women had been smoking long enough.

One study’s author says the group of women that started smoking seriously around 1960 can be followed up only now to understand the full risks.

In the 1980s, researchers suggested women who smoked were 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than women who never did.

But a new study says that number is actually 26 times more likely to die of lung cancer.

Additionally, women’s risk of death from any cause is 50 percent higher than previously thought.

New data has revealed the awful costs of smoking for everyone who does it. It leads to the loss of about a decade of life, one study says.

While smoking is directly responsible for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women in the U.S. each year, new studies say quitting can make a difference.

Dr. Mandi Beman of Aracea Women’s Care in Cherry Creek says, “Studies show (smokers) can live almost a decade longer even if they quit smoking by age 40 and even after that we found increased life expectancy even if you quit in your 50s.”

For tips about how to quit smoking you can visit www.lung.org and www.araceawomenscare.org.

Denver resident Nancy Chatham got the courage to quit smoking. She says it was difficult but well worth it. “It was affecting my health so I just took the cigarettes, threw them out and never picked them up again.”

More than 21 million women smoke in the U.S, ignoring the warnings that they are cutting their life span short. 

The new data offers more proof that smoking can cut your chances of making it to the age of 80 by half.

Dr. Beman also says women who smoke are taking on added risks. “Smoking can affect your fertility, your ability to get pregnant.”

Researchers say while it’s important to get the word out that dropping a smoking habit can increase life expectancy after age 40 or 50 is important, they warn that smokers shouldn’t just decide to smoke up until that point. That’s because it’s not worth the health problems smoking causes for anyone at any time in their life.

You can read more on the latest studies on women and smoking at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1211127