Some women smoke cigarettes in the belief that it is a way to control weight or promote weight loss, a concept that may explain why women may not kick the habit as quickly as men.
"Early studies focused on the adverse effects of tobacco smoking on men, so we don't have all the research we need about smoking among females," says Mary Hayes, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist who practices in Chicago. "For example, we don't know all the reasons women smoke or the total extent of damage tobacco causes women, but we do know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer for women, even exceeding breast cancer. We do know that exposure to smoking begins very early, and prevention programs need to start no later than the second or third grade level."
Ninety percent of all smokers begin smoking before age 18, but the average age for a young girl to start smoking is 14 years of age. According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan, approximately 33% of female 12th graders said they smoked a cigarette within 30 days prior to the study.
"Because females start smoking at an earlier age, they probably find it harder to kick the habit," says Dr. Hayes. "Plus some will continue to believe that smoking assists them in controlling their weight."
However, Dr. Hayes cautions, there is currently no evidence to demonstrate that smoking cigarettes or cigars is effective at suppressing appetite.
"Even if research conducted in the future determines that smoking cigarettes can suppress appetite, there still are too many health reasons to not smoke," says Dr. Hayes. "Cigarettes clearly are linked to an increased risk for emphysema, stroke, heart attacks and lung disease. They cause cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus and lungs. Plus there's the whole issue of second-hand smoke. A girl or young woman who is health conscious should not smoke cigarettes or use tobacco in any form to maintain weight."
Dentists also are concerned about the effects of tobacco and its correlation to pregnancy and other issues regarding reproduction. "I strongly recommend that young women who smoke visit the dentist regularly," concludes Dr. Hayes. "Dentists readily detect the adverse oral effects of tobacco use -- cigarettes, cigars, smokeless -- during routine dental exams and can help patients with tobacco cessation programs.
The Chicago Dental Society strongly supports the regulations adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, categorize nicotine as a drug, and restrict access to tobacco products by children.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.