Women smoke less than men but find it harder to quit

Women smoke less than men but find it harder to quit

Although women smoke fewer cigarettes than men, they have more difficulties to quit this habit, according to an investigation carried out with more than 35,000 smokers presented today at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

The study, which between 2001 and 2008 compared the characteristics of men and women smokers, showed that women seeking help to quit smoking had higher rates of overweight or obesity, depression and anxiety than men and were less successful in their attempts to quit smoking. they gave up the habit.

“Our results show that it is necessary to offer specific help, tailored to the needs of women who want to quit smoking,” says Ingrid Allagbe, researcher at the University of Burgundy (France) and study author.

Study participants were over the age of 18 and had at least one additional factor for cardiovascular disease: overweight / obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of stroke, heart attack, or angina pectoris.

They were then classified according to their nicotine dependence (mild, moderate, or severe) and abstinence was set at 28 consecutive days without smoking, which was confirmed by a measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide of less than 10 parts per million (ppm ).

Participants also reported their level of education, their height and weight, possible conditions such as diabetes or respiratory diseases, the number of cigarettes per day, and other aspects of their medical history, such as the use of anxiolytics or antidepressants.

In total 37,949 smokers participated in the study, 16,492 (43.5%) were women with a mean age of 48 years, slightly less than that of men who was 51 years. Furthermore, 55% of the women and 45% of the men had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Men and women had a high burden of cardiovascular risk factors, although they had higher rates of cholesterol (33% of men versus 30% of women), high blood pressure (26% of men versus 23% of women). women) and diabetes (13% vs 10%, respectively).

On the contrary, they were more overweight or obese compared to men (27% versus 20), symptoms of anxiety or depression (37.5% versus 26.5% of men), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (24 % vs. 21%) and asthma (16% vs. 9%).

Women smoked less (23 cigarettes a day versus 27 that they smoked), they had a lower rate of severe nicotine dependence (56% versus 60% of men).

“The results suggest that, despite smoking less and being less dependent on nicotine than men, women find it more difficult to quit smoking. The higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, and being overweight or obese among women could contribute to this.” Alllagbe details.

For this researcher, one of the causes could be that “women face different barriers to quitting smoking related to fear of gaining weight, sex hormones and mood”.

“These results indicate that comprehensive smoking cessation programs for women that offer a multidisciplinary approach involving a psychologist, dietitian and physical activity specialist are needed.”

Ben Oakley
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