Women’s Health Snapshots: Smoking
Women may not be aware of their susceptibility to smoking-related health risks. Researchers at Yale University surveyed 256 women who worked in a Connecticut hospital; respondents represented a “wide span” of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Although the women knew that smoking is associated with lung cancer (99%), heart disease (96%) and respiratory disease (99%), they were less aware of the health risks specific to their gender, including infertility (22%), osteoporosis (30%), early menopause (17%), spontaneous abortion (39%), ectopic pregnancy (27%) and cervical cancer (24%). The researchers concluded that public health campaigns that target smoking-related health risks specific to women are needed.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,April 2001
Estrogen loss does not seem to affect memory loss. In the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study, researchers at the University of Washington found no correlation between estrogen levels and memory loss, but did find that younger women and women using hormone therapy were more likely to report memory problems than midlife women. The researchers also found that depression and stress had a negative effect on memory.
Menopause, Vol.7, No. 4, 2000
Heart attacks can be more deadly for women. One-third of heart attack patients delayed care an average of three hours because they did not experience chest pain, according to an analysis of data from the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction. Nearly half (49%) of women did not experience chest pain, compared to 38% of men. Patients without chest pain were less likely to be diagnosed with heart attacks once at the hospital (22% vs. 50% of those with chest pain), and less likely to receive clot-busting therapy or angioplasty (25% vs. 74%), aspirin (60% vs. 85%), beta blockers (28% vs. 48%) or heparin (an anticoagulant) (53% vs. 83%). Patients without chest pain were also more than twice as likely to die in the hospital as heart attack patients who did experience chest pain (23% vs. 9%).
Journal of the American Medical Association, June 28, 2000
Prolonged breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Researchers in China interviewed 404 women with breast cancer and an equal number of controls, all of whom had breast-fed for at least one month. Women who breastfed for 24 months or longer had half the incidence of breast cancer compared with women who breast-fed for one to six months. Women with a lifetime duration of breastfeeding for 73 months or longer also had a decreased incidence of breast cancer. Age at first lactation and number of children breast-fed did not affect risk.
American Journal of Epidemiology,December 2000