NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, National Institute
on Drug Abuse
NIH NEWS RELEASE
Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Contact: Michelle Muth 301-443-6245
A review of numerous research studies
focusing on smoking cessation has concluded that while women
may suffer greater relative risks of smoking-related diseases
than do men, they tend to have less success than men in
quitting smoking. Dr. Kenneth A. Perkins from the University
of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who conducted the review
offers several reasons for this disparity in a paper published
in the May 2001 issue of "CNS Drugs".
These research-based findings include:
- --Nicotine replacement therapy may not be as effective
- --Women smokers are more fearful than men of gaining
a lot of weight if they quit.
- --Medications to aid smoking cesstion are not currently
recommended for pregnant women.
- --A woman's menstrual cycle affects tobacco withdrawal
symptoms, and responses to anti-smoking drugs may vary
by cycle phase.
- --Husbands may provide less effective support to women
who are trying to quit smoking than wives give to husbands.
- --Women may be more susceptible than men to environmental
cues to smoking, such as smoking with specific friends
or smoking associated with specific moods.
- --Many women may enjoy the feeling of control associated
with smoking a cigarette.
"According to the recent report on women
and smoking by the Surgeon General, three million women
have died from smoking-related diseases since 1980. Currently,
women suffer 39 percent of all smoking related deaths,"
says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "Given the
greater relative risk of women to incur smoking-related
diseases, it is clear that we must find better approaches
to help women break their nicotine addiction."
Dr. Perkins says that one of the intriguing
observations that emerged from his review is that some forms
of nicotine replacement therapy may not be as effective
in women as in men. In some of the studies he reviewed,
women had less treatment success using nicotine gum or nicotine
patches than did men.
In contrast, other stop-smoking medications
may more effective in women than men. Because negative mood
is more likely to precipitate smoking relapse in women than
in men, Dr. Perkins suggests that use of antidepressant
medications for smoking cessation could be more effective
in women than men.
Dr. Perkins concludes that developing smoking
cessation interventions that address the gender-specific
concerns of women smokers could increase the success rate
among women who are trying to stop smoking.
The health risks associated with smoking
for both men and women are well known, and include a two-fold
increase in risks of heart disease and of cancers of the
bladder, stomach, and pancreas, a 10-20 fold increase in
lung cancer, and a 10-fold increase in chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease. Smoking also significantly increases
risks of stroke and pneumonia.
But women may suffer greater relative risks
of smoking- related diseases than do men. For example, in
one study cited by Dr. Perkins in his review, women who
smoked had almost double the risk of myocardial infarction
than did men. The increased risks of heart attack and stroke
due to smoking are further exacerbated in women who also
use oral contraceptives. Some studies have also pointed
to the conclusion that women also may have nearly double
the risk of lung cancer as men.
There is also some evidence that breast cancer
risk may be increased among women who smoke. Smoking is
associated with greater menstrual bleeding and duration
of dysmenorrhea, as well as greater variability in menstrual
cycle length. Women who smoke have a more difficult time
becoming pregnant, and reach menopause on average a year
or two younger than women who do not smoke.
Most health risks associated with smoking
are reduced or eventually eliminated when smoking abstinence
NOTE TO REPORTERS: This paper is being published
in "CNS Drugs" (Perkins KA. Smoking Cessation in Women:
Special Considerations. CNS Drugs 2001; 15 (5): 391-411).
It is available online at www.Ingenta.com.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a
component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85
percent of the world's research on the health aspects of
drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large
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