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Research Shows Women Are Worse Affected by Smoking than Men

Viewed 647 times 2018-10-9 19:11 |System category:News

International scientists recently analyzed statistics from 52 countries, and predicted that from 2015 to 2030, female lung cancer mortality would rise by nearly 50 percent, exceeding the mortality rate of breast cancer.  

At present, smoking remains the biggest cause of lung cancer in the world. Hundreds of the over 7,000 chemical constituents in tobacco smoke are found harmful to humans, including 69 carcinogens.

According to a director of the Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain, the peak period of tobacco use varies from region to region. 

Due to the social acceptance of women smoking in Europe and Oceania being earlier than that in North America and Asia, women in those countries tend to have a higher lung cancer mortality rate.

The same scientist from Spain has also called for positive measures to be taken to reduce and eliminate smoking, to prevent the death rate of lung cancer from continuing to rise worldwide. 

In addition, Chinese reports on the health hazards of smoking also suggests that women affected by second-hand smoke are also more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than men; and, under the same conditions of smoking, their lung function decline is also more serious than that of men. 

Meanwhile, the risk of smoking women to develop heart disease is almost twice that of men.

Although the smoking rate of Chinese women is only 2.4 percent, as opposed to  over 20 percent of women in Europe, the incidence rate of lung cancer among Chinese women ranks 20th in the world, approaching that of their male Chinese counterparts. 

So, if 80 percent of Chinese women with lung cancer never smoke, why do these groups also get lung cancer?

Although smoking is recognized as the biggest cause of lung cancer, recent studies have found that for women, genetic mutations, kitchen fumes, second-hand smoke and other factors have become major causes that could bring about lung cancer, too.

According to statistics, 55 percent of women over the age of 15 in China are suffering from passive smoking every day. Experts point out that second-hand smoke usually contains more harmful substances than smoking, including two times more nicotine, three times more tar, five times more carbon monoxide and about 50 times more carcinogens. 

In addition, China's unique cooking style also leads to a high incidence of lung cancer in women. Zhi Xiuyi, president of the Chinese Thoracic Surgery Lung Cancer Alliance, said women generally stay longer in the kitchen than men, thus they are more seriously affected by harmful gases and are more likely to have lung cancer.

The data provided by Shanghai Cancer Institute also showed that over 60 percent of non-smoking women with lung cancer in China have long-term exposure to kitchen fumes.

In view of the above estimation, the researchers believe that on the issue of smoking, whether women's rights and interests can be respected will be a test for social civilization. 

For a long time, the voice of women to protect their own health rights and interests has been seriously ignored, thus the society should provide protection for women; men should respect women's rights and interests, and countries should legislate to protect women from suffering second-hand smoke.

Researchers suggested that their findings can serve as a basis for health professionals and decision makers to develop global strategies to reduce the social, economic, and health impact of lung cancer on women.

Wu Yiqun, deputy of the Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, commented that women and children are the most affected groups of second-hand smoke.

However, at present, there is no relevant law in China that prohibits smoking in public places, preventing people from being exposed to indoor smoking in public places and workplaces. Compared with men, female smokers are not so aware of the dangers of tobacco, and even have a low rate of correct understanding of the harmful effects of tobacco on the female reproductive system. They also rarely use current smoking cessation services.

Wu also explained that women can also become the promoters of family tobacco control, especially professional women, and they can play a greater role in tobacco control campaigns through their special status in society.

At the recent 2017 Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Healthy City Construction Forum, officials of the three places jointly announced to launch an initiative of creating smoke-free homes among 90 million residents. Beijing will be the first to carry out this campaign in 100 communities.

(Source: Translated and edited by Women of China)

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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