The Impact of Smoking on Women's Skin, Hair & Overall Health

a woman holding a cigarette | The Impact of Smoking on Women's Skin, Hair & Overall Health

Smoking & Skin Health: What is the Link?

Most people are very much familiar by now with the warnings like smoking is injurious to health, in particular, that cigarettes can cause cancer and increase the risk of heart disease. However, it is important to know that female smokers face unique challenges. 

Mental Health Risks of Smoking

Studies have found that smoking women are also more likely to have mental health problems. As per one study, women who smoked had significantly higher rates of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Suicidality
  • Substance use

Women's Health and Smoking

Smoking can also have an impact on women's health in several areas such as birth control pills, pregnancy, fertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and menopause.

Oral Contraceptives

Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. This risk increases with age, and women over 35 who smoke should not make use of oral contraceptives.

Pregnancy

Chemicals in cigarettes are passed from pregnant women through the bloodstream to the fetus. These toxic chemicals provide serious risks to the fetus as well as the pregnant women.

According to the CDC, smoking during pregnancy raises the risk of:

  • Birth defects of the mouth and lip
  • Low birth weight
  • Preterm birth
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

Infertility

Many women nowadays delay their pregnancy until they are in their 30s or even 40s, which can lead to fertility problems even for nonsmoking women. But women who have smoking habits and delay childbirth are putting themselves at a substantially higher risk of future infertility than nonsmokers.

It is important to note, however, that smoking not only affects female fertility. Male smokers are 50% more likely to get impotent. Some of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes may cause gene mutations in sperm that can also cause miscarriage, birth defects, cancer, and other health issues in their children.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

The pelvic inflammatory disease occurs with more frequency in people who smoke than in people who don't.

Premature Menopause

Research has found that women who smoke have a 43% more risk of experiencing menopause before the age of 50 as compared to non-smokers. Menstrual issues such as abnormal bleeding, amenorrhea (absence of periods), and vaginal infections are also common issues among women who smoke.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects most people as they get older, but there are a few things you can do to minimise your risk of osteoporosis such as participating in regular physical activity and making sure you are getting 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg of calcium every day.

Smoking can lead to a significant increase in the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Women who smoke cigarettes experience a more loss of bone density than nonsmokers. Research suggests that women who smoke have a 31% greater risk of osteoporosis. Smoking can also slow down the healing time after a bone fracture or injury.

Heart Disease

According to the CDC, one in every four deaths caused by cardiovascular disease can be linked to smoking. Although most of these deaths are in women after their menopause, the risk of smoking-related heart disease is significantly more in young female smokers.

Premature skin Ageing and Wrinkles

The toxins in cigarettes damage collagen and elastin, which are the fibrous components of your skin that help to keep it firm and supple. Without them, your skin can seem hardened and less elastic, leading to deeper wrinkles and premature ageing.

These wrinkles are most noticeable on your face—between the eyebrows, around the eyes, and around the mouth and lips. Smoking can also cause sagging skin, specifically under the eyes and around the jawline.

Smoking also leads to premature skin problems as it narrows the blood vessels (limiting the amount of oxygen your skin gets), increases the production of free radicals, and reduces levels of vitamin A in the skin.

Cervical Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.

Researchers believe that tobacco damages the DNA cells of the cervix which leads to the development of cancer. Smoking also impacts immunity, which may make the body less able to fight off HPV infections, which are also a risk factor for cervical cancer. 

Vulvar Cancer

Another kind of cancer that may occur more frequently in smoking women is vulvar cancer. This risk significantly increases in women who smoke and who have a history of HPV infection.

Hair Loss

Smoking can harm the natural process of hair thinning that occurs with ageing. Some research shows that baldness is more common in people who smoke.

Take Away 

Smoking is one of the leading causes of death for women, so it is very necessary to be aware of the health risks linked to it. It not only increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, and other health issues, but it can also be problematic if you are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant. Fortunately, there are tools and resources that are available to help you quit smoking. Quitting now can help reduce your health risks and boost your overall health.