Women have made significant strides in catching up with men on many fronts since the suffrage movement that culminated with the 19th Amendment — the right to vote — in 1920.
There are still battles to be won. But one that women should give up on is their right to die like a man — from smoking.
Women have made significant strides in catching up with men on many fronts since the suffrage movement that culminated with the 19th Amendment — the right to vote — in 1920. There are still battles to be won. But one that women should give up on is their right to die like a man — from smoking.
A recent report based on the latest research and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine is disturbing: Essentially, it concludes that U.S. women who smoke today have a much greater risk of dying from lung cancer than they did decades ago. That’s attributed partly to the fact that they are starting younger and smoking more. Just like men.
Clearly, nobody should smoke. But when it comes to cancer and women, all the emphasis seems to be on breast cancer. Certainly those efforts need to continue because they save lives. But more must be done to raise awareness regarding smoking, women and lung cancer.
In fact, Dr. Steven A. Schroeder of the University of California, San Francisco, says in the journal report: “More women die of lung cancer than of breast cancer. But there is no ‘race for the cure’ for lung cancer, no brown ribbon” or high-profile advocacy groups for lung cancer, he wrote.
Education must begin now. Advocates have raised remarkable support and have made great strides against breast cancer. It’s now time to ramp up the effort to raise awareness to women and lung cancer.
But it’s not just lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is a risk factor for other cancers for women, including the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), nose and sinuses, lips, esophagus (swallowing tube), kidney, cervix, bladder, pancreas, stomach, ovary and the colon/rectum.
And women who smoke greatly increase their risk of heart disease — now the leading killer among women — and stroke, and that risk rises based on the number of cigarettes smoked and the years a woman has been smoking. Smoking also increases the risk more in younger women than in older women. And for younger women who smoke that take birth control pills, that risk is even higher.
Smoking isn’t cool — it literally stinks — and it’s doesn’t play favorites when it comes to equality. It’ll kill women as well as men. Apparently those old Virginia Slims cigarette commercials were right.
You’ve come a long way, baby.