A recent controlled study out of Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital and University of Bergen, Norway has uncovered a potential gender risk to certain diseases of the lung. Women suffered more severe problems at a younger age.
The vulnerabilities of being a woman are a never ending source of commentary, books and even debate. Even with certain health problems, some diseases and disorders such as certain autoimmune issues tend to be predominant among females. A recent study out of Norway has uncovered another gender related health issue to add to the list.
Named as the number one deadly cancer in both men and women, lung cancer is the second most diagnosed in men, following prostate and the second most diagnosed cancer in women after breast cancer. It is responsible for nearly 1/3 of all cancer deaths. Although it reportedly affects men at a greater number than women, the gap between the two is said to be closing.
In a study that was presented on May 18 at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, CA, women were found to suffer the effects of smoking at a younger age and with less exposure than men. According to Science Daily, the study summary showed the following:
Examining the total study sample, there were no gender differences with respect to lung function (FEV1) and COPD severity, but the women were on average younger and had smoked significantly less than men.
To explore these differences further, they also analyzed two subgroups of the study sample: COPD subjects under the age of 60 (early onset group) and COPD subjects with less than 20 pack-years of smoking (low exposure group). In both subgroups, women had more severe disease and greater impairment of lung function than men.
The control group consisted of 955 smokers or ex-smokers and the study group had 954 smokers or ex-smokers who had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What this means is women, who have smaller airways than men, may have a lower tolerance level when it comes to cigarette smoke and suffer from a reduction of lung function at an earlier exposure rate and lesser amounts of cigarette smoke. Study author, Inga-Cecilie Soerheim, M.D., explained some of the possibilities for the findings stating that "gender differences in the metabolism of cigarette smoke" and "genes and hormones" could play a part in the results.
A separate study at the University of Bergen revealed a genetic link in some COPD patients, helping explain why some smokers developed the disease and others did not.
Dr. Soerheim also discussed the false belief among smokers that somehow a minimal number of cigarettes smoked equates to a lesser risk, describing that the low-exposure group proved this belief wrong and revealed that half of the women had severe COPD. With cigarettes being the number one cause of the majority of lung cancer cases as well as the number one cause for COPD, this new finding shows that there is no safe number of cigarettes, particularly for women. And with a 5-year survival rate of around 15 per cent, compared to a 99 percent survival for prostate cancer and 89 percent for breast for 5 years, there may be no time like the present to snuff out the habit.