Americans have known that smoking causes lung cancer since 1957, but that hasn’t stopped consumers from puffing cigarettes. An estimated 443,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking or second-hand smoke.
This year, research showed that not only is that number not decreasing, it’s increasing among women.
Women who smoke now die at a similar rate to male smokers, according to a study released in January by the New England Journal of Medicine.
The risk of death from cigarette smoking continues to increase among women and the increased risks are now nearly identical for men and women, as compared with persons who have never smoked.
The gender gap is closing in smoking, which is sad, Dr. Elizabeth Azubike, M.D., said.
“As a practice, we’ve seen more women with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) than in the past,” she said. “Woman are using smoking as means of controlling their weight and dealing with stress.”
Azubike, who works Wellspan’s York office on 2350 Freedom Way, said it’s surprising, but women don’t understand the effects of smoking as much as you would think. And, women are the gender that should worry.
“Women are more likely to develop COPD than men that smoke,” Azubike said.
She said women who are smoking during pregnancy is also increasing — about 14 percent of preterm delivery is linked to smoking.
To contact Azubike or another physician specializing in lung disease locally, call Wellspan at 717-851-2465.
To learn more about the effects of smoking, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.