Smoking & your health Information for women

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1 Smoking & your health Information for women

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3 How does smoking affect your health? When you smoke, poisons from tobacco smoke pass through your lungs and into your blood stream. They are carried around your body and interfere with the way it works. Every puff you take on a cigarette increases the carbon monoxide in your bloodstream which takes the place of oxygen in your blood. The nicotine in the smoke immediately increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It causes your blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow. The combination of these causes great stress to your body, especially your heart. Over time, smoking starts to take its toll on your body. It depresses your immune system, interferes with your lungs clearing system, reduces blood flow to your hands and feet and hardens your arteries.

4 What diseases does smoking cause? Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also causes cancer of the mouth, nose, nasal sinus, throat, voice box, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder, ureter, cervix, and bone marrow (myeloid leukemia). Smoking causes blindness, loss of bone density, hip fractures, gum disease, peptic ulcers and peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Problems caused by smoking can be painful, crippling and long lasting. The earlier you quit, the more you reduce your risk of serious illness and early death. The contraceptive pill The pill is the most effective and widely used form of contraception. While smoking is dangerous by itself, if you smoke and take the pill you increase your risk of ill health even more. For example, you have a greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. This risk rises significantly as you get older. If you want to gain all the benefits of the pill, you shouldn t smoke. Fertility If you smoke, you may find it more difficult to become pregnant. If you stop smoking, you should find it easier to conceive. Men who smoke are more likely to develop problems with getting or maintaining an erection, due to the effects of smoking on the blood vessels of the penis. Also, they may have less healthy sperm. Quitting smoking can help prevent these problems. 4

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6 Weight gain Most people do gain some weight when they quit smoking. But research shows that in the long term, the average weight of ex-smokers is similar to women who have never smoked. On average, smokers weigh slightly less than people who don t smoke. This is thought to be due to the effects of nicotine, which suppresses hunger and speeds up the way the body processes food. Weight changes also depend on things such as exercise and eating habits. Plan a range of healthy snacks. But be realistic, allow yourself some treats. Also, think about doing some exercise. For example, walk up stairs rather than take the lift, walk to the shops or around the block for exercise. This may even help you quit. If worrying about putting on weight is stopping you from quitting smoking, act on your concerns. Talk to your doctor or dietician, and make a sensible eating plan. A lot of women who are concerned about putting on weight before they quit actually find that it isn t the problem they thought it would be. 6

7 Pregnancy If you smoke when you are pregnant the combination of carbon monoxide and nicotine in cigarettes makes it harder for your baby to get the oxygen and nourishment it needs. Smoking places stress on the baby s heart and affects the development of its lungs. Pregnant smokers have a greater risk of miscarriage, pregnancy complications and preterm birth. Smoking increases the risk of having a low weight baby, which is more vulnerable to infection and other health problems. The baby of a smoker is more likely to die at or shortly after birth. If you quit before becoming pregnant or in the first few months, your baby s birthweight will be the same as if you had been a non-smoker. Also, you reduce the risk of preterm birth and other pregnancy complications.

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9 Parenting Every time you smoke and you re with children, they are smoking too. When exposed to cigarette smoke, babies and young children have a greater risk of becoming sick from croup, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia, and dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or cot death). Children of smokers are more at risk of asthma, meningococcal disease and glue ear (an ear infection which may cause hearing loss). The best way to protect children from tobacco smoke is by a total ban on smoking inside the home. For more information on making your home smokefree, visit Children learn from you and copy what they see. If you have children and don t want them to smoke, quitting can reduce the chances that they will become smokers. If you cannot quit yet, it helps to let them know that you would prefer they didn t smoke and why. 9

10 Menopause Women who smoke reach menopause one or two years earlier than non-smokers. This may be due to the toxic effect of chemicals from smoke on your ovaries and the effects of nicotine on sex hormones. Smokers may also have more menopausal symptoms. Quitting results in menopause starting later. Smoking results in loss of bone density in older women, and increases the risk of hip fractures. Quitting as early as possible will reduce your risk. 10

11 QUIT TIPS Once you ve decided you want to quit, make sure you re successful by planning before you stop: Throw away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays in your home and car. If your partner or other member of your household smokes, suggest that they stop too, or only smoke outside the house. Your children suffer if anyone smokes in your home. Plan how to handle the places and events that you know make you want to smoke. Talk to your family and friends about how they can help and encourage you to quit. Treat yourself with the money you have saved. Your efforts deserve to be rewarded! Remember each craving only lasts a few minutes. Use the 4Ds delay smoking, deep breathe, drink water, do something else. If you have a cigarette it s not the end of your quit attempt. A slip-up is a setback, not a defeat. If you are finding it difficult: Call the Quitline on (13 QUIT) for a free Quit Pack and for information and support to help you quit smoking. Or visit our website

12 There is help close by Family Planning Victoria Clinic and Administration 901 Whitehorse Road Box Hill VIC 3128 Telephone (03) Websites Action Centre Level 1, Elizabeth Street Melbourne VIC 3000 Telephone (03) Toll free Outreach clinics Hoppers Crossing Youth Resource Centre 82 Derrimut Road Hoppers Crossing VIC 3029 Telephone (03) Cranbourne Integrated Care Centre Sladen Street Cranbourne VIC 3977 Telephone (03) Goulburn Valley Health Graham Street Shepparton VIC 3632 Telephone (03) The Quit logo is a registered trademark of The Cancer Council Victoria. Quit Victoria is a joint initiative of The Cancer Council Victoria, the Department of Human Services, the National Heart Foundation and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. 8/2006 Produced by Quit Victoria PO Box 888 Carlton Victoria 3053 Telephone (03)

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