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Smoking related diseases in women reaching 'epic proportions'

The Irish Cancer Society is concerned about the high number of young female smokers – saying lung cancer deaths in Ireland have now exceeded breast cancer deaths.

THE LEVEL OF tobacco-related diseases in women has risen to “epic proportions” – with a numbers of young female smokers rising, according to the Irish Cancer Society.

Launching a new campaign specifically targeted at young women, the Society said the number of women dying from lung cancer now exceeds the number of breast cancer fatalities.

Data from the National Cancer Registry shows that the number of lung cancers in women is increasing by 3 per cent each year. Lung cancer has now changed from being a being a predominantly male disease for the past fifty years and is projected to be a predominantly female disease by 2025, according to the Society.

The Society is launching its new campaign to coincide with Ash Wednesday – also National No Smoking Day – and is focusing on young women who set a date to quit – but find it difficult to stick to it. Women are being encouraged to pick their quit date and “plan, prepare and get help in advance so that they can take control of their lives, their health and their looks.”

Surge in female smokers

While the surge in female smokers over the past number of decades has contributed to the number of tobacco-related deaths, recent research has also indicated that women may be more susceptible than men to such diseases.  A study published in the respected Lancet medical journal last year found that females may extract more carcinogens than males who smoke the same number of cigarettes.

More women are consuming tobacco than before due to a number reasons, including weaker societal taboos about female smokers. However, tobacco companies are also specifically targeting the female market and have rolled out more ‘glamourous’ and feminine products such as “superslim” cigarettes in the last five years, the Society said:

Japan Tobacco International has developed odour-reducing technology which has carbon in the filter as well as a double layer of paper and added flavours in order to reduce odour emitted from burning cigarettes.
All this product innovation is aimed at female smokers who the tobacco industry sees as a key growth area. Their success is highlighted by the fact more women are now dying from lung cancer than breast cancer.

A disproportionate number of women from disadvantaged backgrounds are smokers, with half of such women aged between 18 and 29 reaching for the cigarettes, according to the Society. That number is halved in the same age-group of women from non-disadvantaged backgrounds.

Column: All the warnings of cancer were there, but I ignored them>

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Irish Cancer Society puts focus on research in fight against cancer>

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