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Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer

A risk factor is anything that changes your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for many cancers. But having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease.

Several risk factors increase your chance of developing cervical cancer. Women without any of these risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer. Although these risk factors increase the odds of developing cervical cancer, many women with these risks do not develop this disease. When a woman develops cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes, it may not be possible to say with certainty that a particular risk factor was the cause.

In thinking about risk factors, it helps to focus on those you can change or avoid (like smoking or human papilloma virus infection), rather than those you cannot (such as your age and family history). However, it is still important to know about risk factors that cannot be changed, because it's even more important for women who have these factors to get regular Pap tests to detect cervical cancer early.


Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Smoking exposes the body to many cancer-causing chemicals that affect organs other than the lungs. These harmful substances are absorbed through the lungs and carried in the bloodstream throughout the body. Tobacco by-products have been found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke. Researchers believe that these substances damage the DNA of cervix cells and may contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Smoking also makes the immune system less effective in fighting HPV infections.


Cigarette Smoking Increases Hormones, Disease Risk in Postmenopausal Women

Postmenopausal women who smoke cigarette tend to have elevated levels of testosterone and other hormones when compared with non-smoking women, according to a new study from researchers in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. High hormone levels place these women at risk for breast and endometrial cancer as well as type 2 diabetes

Women who stop cigarette smoking cut their risk

The health risks associated with smoking have been much researched and established to include lung cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gum disease, high blood pressure, fertility problems, and more. In this new study, investigators explored the relationship between smoking and sex hormone levels in postmenopausal women.

A total of 2,030 postmenopausal women (aged 55-81), none of whom were using hormone therapy, participated in the study. The women were grouped according to smoking status: current, former, and never.

Women who were currently smoking had higher circulating levels of androgens (hormones that stimulate or control male characteristics; e.g., testosterone, free testosterone, androstenedione), 17-hydroxprogesterone, estradiol, and SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin; a protein that binds to testosterone and estradiol) than did “former” or “never” smokers. Women who were former smokers (quit within 1-2 years) and those who had never smoked had similar hormone levels.

These findings are important, according to Judith Brand, MSc, of University Medical Center Utrecht and the study’s lead author, as “the observed increase in sex hormone levels with cigarette use suggests that tobacco smoke, apart from its direct toxic and carcinogenic effects, may also influence chronic disease risk through hormonal mechanisms.”

Smokers who quit can expect to begin reaping the benefits of stopping almost immediately, including an improvement in blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and reduced risk of smoking-related disease. Similarly, Brand noted that “the effect of cigarette smoking appears reversible, as an almost immediate reduction in sex hormone levels was seen in women who quit using cigarettes.”

For people who still smoke, and especially postmenopausal women, this study suggests there is yet another benefit to quitting. Brand noted that “our research suggests that smoking cessation may have additional effects by modifying hormone-related disease risks.” However, because this was not the focus of the current study, further research is needed.


A successful attempt to quit smoking may depend on where women are in their monthly cycle

Those trying before ovulation were more likely to reach for a cigarette again than those trying at other times, US scientists claimed.

Writing in the journal Addiction, the researchers said differing levels of female sex hormones were to blame.

Smoking charity Quit said that women should still try to stop, regardless of the timing.

The links between different parts of the menstrual cycle and mood are well established, and there is even some evidence that women smokers tend to smoke more at some points.

The addiction to nicotine is so powerful, however, that scientists are constantly looking for ways to increase the chances of kicking the habit.

Withdrawal effect

The researchers looked at a total of 200 women, who were asked to give up smoking either in the "follicular" stage of their cycle - the period leading up to ovulation, when an egg is produced by the ovary, or the "luteal" stage, the roughly two-week stage that completes the cycle.

Each stage is marked by differences in the hormones produced by the body.

After 30 days, 86% of the women who starting trying to give up during their follicular phase had "relapsed", and smoked at least one cigarette.

This compared to 66% of the group who had started in their luteal phase.

While the precise reasons for this remained unclear, the scientists from the University of Minnesota suggested that the hormone differences linked to the different menstrual phases could affect the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms felt by the quitters.

Hormones might even play a role in the speed at which nicotine is removed from the bloodstream by the body, they said.

"More research is needed to understand these biological mechanisms," they wrote.

"Our findings support an important role for ovarian hormones in nicotine addiction and smoking cessation."

A spokesman for the charity Quit said: "Women reading this report shouldn't panic about the findings, as there's lots of help available regardless of the time of the month."


CHILDREN of smokers are affected by poor air quality far more than has been previously thought, a study has found.

Research by Aberdeen University and the anti-smoking charity Ash Scotland saw monitoring devices placed in the homes of parents with children under the age of six.

The devices detected poor air quality within properties long after the mothers and fathers had stubbed out their cigarettes.

The Refresh project, which aims to reduce children's exposure to second-hand smoke, reported that many mothers expressed surprise at the high levels of tobacco smoke measured in their homes.

The parents were also surprised that smoking in a different room or beside an open door or window gave less protection than they had assumed.

"With more than 85 % of cigarette smoke invisible to the human eye, it can be difficult to know how much smoke our children are breathing in the home," Dr Sean Semple of the University of Aberdeen said.

"This study shows that measuring smoke in homes can help parents understand just how much is present and for how long it lingers in the air."


23% of women enter pregnancy as smokers and more than half continue to smoke during pregnancy

It's estimated that almost 23% of women enter pregnancy as smokers and more than half continue to smoke during pregnancy, leading to excess healthcare costs at delivery and beyond. In one of the first studies to assess smoking bans and taxes on cigarettes, along with the level of tobacco control spending, researchers have found that state tobacco control policies can be effective in curbing smoking during pregnancy, and in preventing a return to smoking within four months on average, after delivery.

The results were published online June 5 in advance of the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"This is one of the first studies of pregnant women's smoking in the new era of more restrictive state tobacco control policies," says lead investigator E. Kathleen Adams, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Emory University. "We found that a $1.00 increase in cigarette taxes increases the quit rate among pregnant women from 44.1% to 48.9%, a sizable effect. Moreover, tax policies appear to be effective in keeping these women from relapsing in the first few months postpartum, and the implementation of a full workplace smoke-free policy also increases quits."

Researchers from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined cigarette smoking among 225,445 women with live births from 2000-2005 in 29 states plus New York City. Data on smoking status (pre-pregnancy smoking; quitting during pregnancy; and remaining quit 4 months after delivery) were merged with cigarette price data, including federal, state, and local cigarette excise taxes, data on state tobacco control spending for the period, and the existence of full or partial bans of worksite or restaurant smoking

Investigators determined that a $1.00 increase in taxes and prices increases the probability of quitting by the last three months of pregnancy by 4.8 percentage points. The probability of having sustained nonsmoking four months after delivery is increased by 4.2 percentage points or from 21.3% to 25.5%, with a $1.00 increase in real taxes. A full ban on smoking at private worksites increased the probability of quitting smoking during pregnancy by 4-5 percentage points.

The findings did not indicate that cumulative tobacco control spending affects smoking among pregnant women. "Insignificant results on tobacco control spending may indicate that such spending needs to reach a minimum threshold recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," notes Dr. Adams. "If additional tobacco tax revenues were used by states to support implementation of smoke-free and other effective policies, then tax policy could have additional effects on prevalence of smoking and in turn, help improve birth outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs at delivery."

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