Not only do women suffer from most of the negative effects of smoking that
men do (see Scary facts) but we are also
prone to additional risks that should, arguably, give us even greater reasons to
Certain toxins in cigarette smoke can alter levels of vital hormones such as
testosterone and oestrogen which creates an imbalance which in some women can
contribute to infertility.
Women who start to smoke in their teens are three times more likely (than
non-smoking women) to experience early menopause. There are two reasons put
forward for this: the effects of the lower levels of oestrogen in the body (when
compared with female non-smokers) and ovotoxins in cigarette smoke which have a
toxic effect on ovaries.
A woman who smokes 20 cigarettes a day is four times more likely to develop
breast cancer than a woman who does not smoke.
Women who smoke are more likely to get cancers of the vulva and the cervix.
This could be because smoking leaches the body’s supply of beta carotene,
vitamins A and C – these are all antioxidants which have been found to help
protect the body against cancer.
Women who smoke are 50 % more likely to have a heart attack than male smokers
and researchers think this may be because of the unique way that the oestrogen
in our bodies react with the constituents of cigarette smoke.
Women who smoke and also use the Pill (an oral contraceptive) increase their
chances of developing blood clots, strokes, heart attacks and other
cardiovascular diseases. The situation becomes even more dangerous as women get
older and so women over 30 who smoke and are on the Pill should be especially
(See also Fertility facts and Pregnancy