All over the world the habit of smoking amongst women is on the rise. In fact the percentage of smokers has almost doubled in the last 10 years. India is becoming the second largest consumer of tobacco after the US. Smoking causes a variety of conditions and ailments amongst women and their unborn child. Amongst the young women the habit of smoking results in menstrual disturbances, mood swings and difficulty in conceiving.
Skincare Specialist, Dr Surojit Gorai, Dr M Shahnawaz Purkait, Medical Superintendent, Techno India Dama Healthcare and Medical Centre and Dr Ananya Ganguly, Ophthalmologist from Disha Eye Hospitals have shared their insights on the impact of regular smoking on the overall health of a woman.
As per Dr Surojit Gorai, smoking is a major risk factor for premature skin aging, hair loss, and a variety of skin diseases. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the skin and hair follicles, leading to a number of visible changes.
a. Skin damage – Smoking can cause a number of changes to the skin, including:
· Premature Aging – Smoking can make the skin look older than it actually is. This is because smoking damages the collagen and elastin in the skin, which are the proteins that give the skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, the skin becomes thinner, more wrinkled, and less elastic.
· Wrinkles – Smoking can cause wrinkles to form around the eyes, mouth, and forehead. This is because smoking damages the collagen and elastin in the skin, which are the proteins that give the skin its strength and elasticity.
· Age spots – Smoking can cause age spots to form on the skin. Age spots are brown or black spots that are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Smoking can make the skin more sensitive to UV rays, which can increase the risk of developing age spots.
· Pigmentation problems – Smoking can cause pigmentation problems, such as melasma and chloasma. Melasma is a condition that causes brown patches to form on the face. Chloasma is a condition that causes dark patches to form on the face, especially in women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills.
· Acne – Smoking can make acne worse. This is because smoking can increase the production of sebum, an oily substance that can clog the pores and lead to acne breakouts.
· Rosacea – Smoking can worsen rosacea, a chronic skin condition that causes redness, flushing, and pimples on the face.
· Smoking Is Related To Skin Cancer – Smoking is a major risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, two types of skin cancer.
· Hair damage – Smoking can also damage hair, leading to:
Thinning hair – Smoking can cause hair to become thinner and more brittle. This is because smoking can damage the hair follicles, which are the tiny sacs in the skin where hair grows.
Hair loss – Smoking can increase the risk of hair loss, especially in men. This is because smoking can damage the hair follicles and make it more difficult for hair to grow.
Dry & Damaged Hair – Smoking can make hair dry, damaged, and more prone to breakage. This is because smoking can damage the hair cuticle, which is the outer layer of the hair that protects the inner layers.
How to prevent skin and hair damage from smoking?
The best way to prevent skin and hair damage from smoking is to quit smoking. If you are a smoker, there are a number of resources available to help you quit. You can talk to your doctor about quitting, or you can join a smoking cessation program.
There are also a number of things you can do to protect your skin and hair from the damage caused by smoking, even if you are a smoker. These include:
A. Wear sunscreen – Sunscreen is important for everyone, but it is especially important for smokers. Smokers have a higher risk of developing skin cancer, so it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days.
B. Eat a healthy diet – Eating a healthy diet can help to improve the overall health of your skin and hair. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
C. Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
D. Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, and it can also help to improve the appearance of your skin and hair.
E. Manage stress. Stress can contribute to skin and hair problems. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
By taking these steps, you can help to protect your skin and hair from the damage caused by smoking.
According to Dr M Shahnawaz Purkait, Medical Superintendent, Techno India Dama Healthcare and Medical Centre
a. COPD is often associated with chronic smoking.
b. Coronary heart disease, hypertension are well recognized conditions.
c. Smoking can also cause reduction in bone mineral density leading to osteoporosis.
d. The risk of various cancers like oral, laryngeal, esophageal, pulmonary, cervical, rectal are attributed to smoking.
e. Smoking can cause complications like congenital heart diseases and other anomalies in the unborn child.
f. Nicotine, a key product of tobacco, can cross the placenta and affect the foetus.
g. Smoking causes premature aging .It has been recorded that children of parents who are addicted to smoking have a greater affinity to take up smoking in future.
h. Smoking can attribute to pelvic inflammatory diseases and early menopause in women.
Dr Ananya Ganguly, a noted Eyecare Specialist from Disha Eye Hospitals has clearly stated that India has seen an alarming increase in women smokers over the last few years. Prevalence of smoking is very high (43%) among the youth population. Late adolescent phase is the phase when most youngsters start smoking. Enjoyment and curiosity, stress and peer pressure are the most important factors for anyone to light up.
It is well known that smoking is a risk factor for heart disease and lung cancer; however, smoking can also lead to different eye diseases. Smoking or tobacco causes damage by causing oxidative damage and narrowing of blood vessels. Tobacco in any form – cigarettes, biri, and tobacco chewing – is potentially harmful. Avoiding smoking, or taking steps to quit, lowers the risk of vision impairment and vision loss.
Teenage or young age smoking especially among women, per se, does not pose a higher risk by itself. It is just that the cumulative effect of smoking over longer duration adds up (more pack-years) and the effect is more by the time such smokers get older.
Also, smoking does not only harm the smoker, but the effect is also seen in second-hand smokers, especially children.
Smokers are at higher risk for:
· Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Smokers are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop AMD (retinal thinning and weakness) than non-smokers.
· Grave’s Disease (Thyroid ophthalmopathy): is an autoimmune disease of thyroid gland and smoking is a major significant risk factor. Smoking cessation is one of the first steps of treatment.
· Diabetic Retinopathy: Complications of diabetes made worse by smoking which include diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy.
· Dry Eye Syndrome: is twice more common among smokers than non-smokers. Smokers who wear contact lenses have four times the increased risk of infection.
· Pregnancy and Smoking: Smoking during pregnancy is associated with premature births and thus more risk of retinopathy of prematurity (incomplete development of the retina).
· Cataract: Heavy smokers are more likely to develop early cataracts than non-smokers
· Glaucoma: Older smokers have a higher risk of developing increased eye pressure and glaucoma
· Optic nerve problems: Smoking decreases the blood supply to the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain. Damage can lead to visual field loss and even blindness.
– Central Serous Chorioretinopathy: Central Serous Chorioretinopathy is when fluid builds up under the retina. This can distort the vision. This is quite common in young adult women addicted to tobacco. Visual disturbance due to this can range from sudden blurry vision and distortion of image to severe irreversible visual loss if not treated at right time.