Posted by on April 18, 2015 - 9:35am

We are well aware that cigarette smoking has a direct link to lung cancer.  Did you know that the latest Surgeon General's report identified 21 other diseases that have a causal relationship to cigarettes?

The list included 12 types of cancer, 6 categories of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and some pneumonias.  But a new report put  out by the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute and several major medical centers that pooled data on millions of subjects of both sexes and age 55 years and older found other concerns for smokers. In this study,  mortality was followed from 2000 to 2011.

 There were 181,377 deaths overall---19% in smokers and 14% in non smokers. The study reconfirmed the increase morality due to smoking in the conditions listed above.    However, 17% of the smokers with increased mortality helped identify new conditions impacted by smoking:   renal failure, intestinal ischemia, hypertensive heart disease, infections, various respiratory conditions, breast cancer and prostate cancer---conditions not part of the earlier "21". 

While the study provides a more complete lists of conditions increased due to smoking, it also reinforces the fact that the rate of death from almost any cause was two to three time higher in current smokers when compared to non smokers.  While more study is needed to rule our other behaviours and determine how smoking effects treatment, the study demonstrates how important it is to reduce smoking espeically in young people.   Smoking also impacts one's  quality of life and will often cause mortality due to chronic conditions a decade earlier in smokers.  It sure makes sense to put those cigarettes away.



Posted by on March 25, 2015 - 4:15pm

Daughters of mothers who smoked during pregnancy enter puberty at a younger age.  As a result, these offspring start their periods earlier---a risk factor for uterine, endometrials and breast cancers later in life.  Study researchers from Australia say that maternal smoking could create health problems in daughters even before they are born.

Health risks children often have when a mother smokes during pregancy include low birth rate, asthma, type 2 diabetes and obesity.   This new study suggests that there are many more possible adverse effects that are just beginning to be  discovered and may evolve over a lifetime in the exposed fetus.  According to study author, Alison Behie, there are several factors that influence when a girl has her first period:  puberty age of mother, body weight of the girl at ages 8-9, and based on this study, mother's smoking habit.

This study only followed girls till ages 12-13 and the next study will look at girls 14-15 years.  This data will need to be teased out for confounding factors and other influences but it does suggest that mothers who smoke while pregnant may want to consider stopping the habit-at least while pregnant.



Posted by on June 6, 2014 - 1:50pm

The Up in Smoke: All You Need to Know about Cigarettes info graphic inspired today's post.

We have all known about the harms of smoking on one's health for quite some time, but the reality is, approximately 23 million women in the United States still smoke cigarettes--that is 23% of the female population! Smoking is damaging to both men and women's health and causes cancers that affect the lungs, mouth, esophagus, kidney, and more. However, women may face increased health problems due to smoking. Smoking while pregnant can cause damaging chemicals to pass from mother to fetus and may lead to preterm delivery, low birthweight, premature rupture of membranes, placenta previa, miscarriage, and even neonatal death. Different ailments, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID) are more common in women who smoke than non-smokers. In fact, PID occurs with 33% more frequency in women who smoke. Lastly, women who begin smoking in their teens increases her likelihood of early menopause by three times when compared to non-smokers! (Source on Women's Health)

To learn more about the effects of smoking, check out this info graphic "Up in Smoke: All You Need to Know about Cigarettes" provided by

Posted by on February 20, 2014 - 10:31pm

New research proves yet another reason for women to quit smoking: smoking may cause earlier signs of menopause. Heavier smokers may enter menopause up to nine years earlier compared to nonsmokers.

In the United States, the average age for menopause is 51. Previous studies have already showed that smoking can hasten menopause by one to two years, regardless of race or genetic background. New research shows that menopause can happen much quicker specifically in white female smokers who are carriers of two different gene variants.

Over 400 women ages 35 to 47 from the Penn Ovarian Aging Study were compared. Heavy smokers, light smokers, and nonsmokers who were carriers of the CYP3A4*1B variation had an average time-to-menopause of 5.09 years, 11.36 years, and 13.91 years, respectively, after entering the study. This suggests that certain white females with a specific genetic make-up may enter menopause up to nine years earlier than nonsmoking females.

The average time-to-menopause for white carriers of the CYP1B1*3 variation, was 10.41 years, 10.42 years, and 11.08 years among heavy smokers, light smokers, and nonsmokers, respectively. The results were statistically significant but the discrepancies were obviously not as huge as the CYp3A4*1B variant.

The variations of the genes, specifically CYP3A4*1B and CYP1b1*3, were not shown in the research as the cause of earlier menopause, but there is no doubt that an association exists. The research did not examine the implications of smoking on menopause in other populations including African Americans. Regardless, all women should understand how smoking may affect their menopause and health in general, and they should consider quitting smoking. To learn about other lifestyle and menopause associations, visit Northwestern's menopause website here.
Reference: Samantha F. Butts, Mary D. Sammel, Christine Greer, Timothy R. Rebbeck, David W. Boorman, Ellen W. Freeman. Cigarettes, genetic background, and menopausal timingMenopause, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000140


Posted by on January 10, 2014 - 3:37pm

In the January of 1964, the Surgeon General made its first report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer. Yesterday, the CDC announced a new triumph in the war against lung cancer by announcing that the rate of new lung cancer cases have decreased among men and women in the United States since 2005. Lung cancer incidence rates decreased 2.6% per year among men, and 1.1% per year among women. While, generally, this is a significant victory, the differing rates between men and women are troubling.

For many years, the female population was not smoking at the same rate as the male population, but the CDC stated, “smoking behaviors among women are now similar to those among men,” so “women are now experiencing the same risk of lung cancer as men.” If women have the same risk as men, it is troubling, therefore, that efforts to decrease new cancer incidences in women is declining at a slower rate than in men. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, and sex-based research must be conducted to determine why women seem to be lagging behind men in these decreased incidences.

The CDC attributes these decreased rates to tobacco prevention and control programs. The CDC calls for a continued emphasis on local, state, and national tobacco prevention strategies to mitigate future lung cancer diagnoses. Some strategies that have been accredited to this reduced incidence rate are increased tobacco prices, smoke-free laws, restricted tobacco advertising, and a slew of mass media campaigns against smoking.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Posted by on May 21, 2013 - 2:05pm

Smoking can do more than make your teeth yellow. A study indicates smoking can make teeth go away. Researcher Xiaodan Mai of the University at Buffalo in New York found this in data on about 1,100 postmenopausal women. She compared periodontal disease or gum disease with caries or tooth decay as reasons for tooth loss.

Smoking is an important risk factor for tooth loss in older women.  “The more women smoked, the more likely they are to experience tooth loss due to periodontal disease. This pattern was not seen in tooth loss due to caries.”

Mai says tobacco has chemicals that are bad for periodontal health, and also fosters bacteria that are bad.

The study in the Journal of the American Dental Association was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

To learn more about the side effects of smoking, visit:

Source:  HHS HealthBeat, May 20, 2013


Posted by on July 27, 2011 - 6:14am

A new study uncovers a brain mechanism that could be targeted for new medications designed to help people quit smoking without gaining weight. This research, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, shows that a specific subclass of brain nicotinic receptor is involved in nicotine’s ability to reduce food intake in rodents. Prior research shows that the average weight gain after smoking is less than 10 pounds, but fear of weight gain can discourage some people who would like to quit.

In the study, to be published in the June 10 issue of Science, researchers found that a nicotine-like drug, cytisine, specifically activated nicotinic receptors in the hypothalamus — a brain center that controls feeding. This resulted in the activation of a circuit that reduced food intake and body fat in a mouse model. This effect was very specific, since a drug that prevented cytisine from binding to its hypothalamic receptors blocked the reduction in food intake.

Through the use of tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Despite the well-documented health costs of smoking, many smokers report great difficulty quitting.

"These mouse models allow us to explore the mechanisms through which nicotine acts in the brain to reduce food intake," said Dr. Marina Picciotto, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn. and senior author for the article.

"These results indicate that medications that specifically target this pathway could alleviate nicotine withdrawal as well as reduce the risk of overeating during smoking cessation," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Although more research is warranted, such a highly selective compound might be more effective than drugs that act on more than one type of nicotinic receptor."

For information on tips to maintain a healthy weight while quitting smoking go to Forever Free: Smoking and Weight, a publication of the National Cancer Institute. For additional information on resources to help quit smoking, go HERE

The study can be found online at:


Posted by on February 28, 2011 - 10:52am

Maternal cigarette smoking in the first trimester was associated with a 20 to 70 percent greater likelihood that a baby would be born with certain types of congenital heart defects, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defects, contributing to approximately 30 percent of infant deaths from birth defects annually.

The study found an association between tobacco exposure and certain types of defects such as those that obstruct the flow of blood from the right side of the heart into the lungs (right ventricular outflow tract obstructions) and openings between the upper chambers of the heart (atrial septal defects). The study is in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

"Women who smoke and are thinking about becoming pregnant need to quit smoking and, if they're already pregnant, they need to stop," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Quitting is the single most important thing a woman can do to improve her health as well as the health of her baby."

Based on the findings of this and other studies, eliminating smoking before or very early in pregnancy could prevent as many as 100 cases of right ventricular outflow tract obstructions and 700 cases of atrial septal defects each year in the United States. For atrial septal defects alone, that could potentially save $16 million in hospital costs.

"Successfully stopping smoking during pregnancy also lowers the chances of pregnancy complications such as preterm delivery and that an infant will have other complications such as low birth weight," said Adolfo Correa, M.D., Ph.D., medical officer in CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The findings from the study are based on a large population-based case-control study of congenital heart defects conducted in the United States.

Congenital heart defects are conditions present at birth that decrease the ability of the heart to work well, which can result in an increased likelihood of death or long-term disabilities. They affect nearly 40,000 infants in the United States every year.

Click HERE to view the publication.

Posted by on December 27, 2010 - 2:48pm

Study Estimates More than 600,000 Deaths Worldwide Caused by Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand tobacco smoke is estimated to have caused more than 600,000 deaths and the loss of more than 10 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide in 2004, according to the first analysis of its kind. Women and children were more likely than men to be exposed to secondhand smoke and to suffer morbidity and mortality from this exposure. The findings were published online November 25 in The Lancet.

Researchers led by Dr. Mattias Öberg of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, used data for their analysis from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey and 19 additional surveys published between 1980 and 2007. They used models to estimate the burden of disease from secondhand smoke exposure for countries without direct survey data. The research team used the comparative risk assessment method, which is based on the proportion of people exposed to a pollutant and the known relative risk of disease related to that exposure.

The authors estimate that, worldwide, 40 percent of children, 35 percent of female nonsmokers, and 33 percent of male nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke. In 2004, secondhand smoke caused 379,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease, 165,000 deaths from lower-respiratory infections, 36,900 deaths from asthma, and 21,400 deaths from lung cancer. Forty-seven percent of these deaths occurred among women and 28 percent occurred among children.

“Two-thirds of these deaths [among children] occur in Africa and south Asia…. The combination of infectious diseases and tobacco seems to be [deadly] for children in these regions,” wrote the authors. “Prompt attention is needed to dispel the myth that developing countries can wait to deal with tobacco-related disease until they have dealt with infectious diseases.

“The provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should be enforced immediately to create complete smoke-free environments in all indoor workplaces, public places, and on public transport,” the authors recommended.

“This landmark study documents the global magnitude of the problem of secondhand smoke exposure and its devastating consequences,” said Dr. Cathy Backinger, chief of NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch. “These findings should encourage a sense of urgency for ensuring that nonsmokers are protected from secondhand smoke exposure—a completely preventable health hazard.”

Posted by on November 18, 2010 - 3:42pm

Today Is the Great American Smokeout--November 18--time to Quit!

Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done.

An estimated 69.7 million Americans age 12 or older use tobacco products. Smokers are urged by federal agencies to become nonsmokers during the 35th annual Great American Smokeout. The Great American Smokeout is dedicated to reducing the risk of cancer by helping those who struggle with smoking develop a plan to quit and lead a healthier lifestyle. On November 18, smokers nationwide will make the choice to either quit on this date or set in motion a plan that leads to cutting back and subsequently quitting.

Support the Great American Smokeout and help support the fight against cancer each year by making your commitment to quit smoking today. If you know someone who uses tobacco, support their efforts to quit by telling them about the Great American Smokeout.

Here are some related resources for our readers!

SmokeFree Women

Tips for Teens: The Truth About Tobacco

Free materials from the FDA Office on Women's Health

"Light" cigarettes and cancer risk.

Women, Smoking and Weight Gain