A Focus on Women

By: Steve Barrett
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Recent data paint an alarming portrait of threats to women’s health.

Heavy Cost of Lighting Up

Do your female patients need more reasons not to smoke — and not to hang around when others do? Try this: Based on information gathered from more than 93,000 women, an observational study in the journal Tobacco Control links smoking to both infertility and early menopause.

  • Among women with the greatest level of exposure to tobacco — both active and passive — menopause occurred between one and two years earlier than among women who had never smoked nor been exposed to secondhand smoke, according to researchers. Menopause was 26% more likely to occur among women younger than 50 if they were current or former smokers.
  • Risk of infertility was approximately 14% higher among current or former smokers than among those who had never smoked.

059990036-DV-Rising Risk 750

Cancer and Periodontal Disease

In a study of more than 73,000 postmenopausal women who had not previously had breast cancer, the risk of subsequently developing the disease was 14% greater if a woman had had periodontal disease. The increased risk for breast cancer was 36% for women who had periodontal disease and had smoked within the past 20 years, according to the study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

059990036-DV-Seasons Of Life 750

Dubious Racial Milestone

059990036-DV-Median Age 250The historically lower incidence of breast cancer among black women than among white women in the U.S. has partially offset the fact that breast cancer tends to be deadlier among black women who develop the disease. But increasing rates of breast cancer among black women have closed the incidence gap.

The American Cancer Society reported recently that the disease is now as common among black women as it is among white women.

Researchers hypothesize a number of possible factors behind the increase. Higher rates of obesity among black women may be key. Other reasons could be the decision by rising numbers of black women to delay having children and to have fewer children, which can contribute to breast cancer development.