Dr Prashant On Smoking & Women’s Health

On World No-Tobacco Day 2020, we discuss the deathly grip of this vice over Indians. Dr Prashant Chhajed, HOD-Respiratory Medicine at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Fortis Hospital, Mulund talks about the ill-effects of tobacco, especially on women.

1. How does tobacco affect your overall health & how long does it take for its effects to appear?

Tobacco contains more than 7,000 harmful chemicals. When a person inhales or consumes tobacco, all organs or systems of the body get affected such as mouth, lungs, heart, brain, stomach and kidneys. Tobacco starts affecting our health immediately after consuming it (smoking/chewing).

2. How does different tobacco consumption affect us—chewing and smoking?

With both chewing and/or smoking tobacco, the harmful chemicals present in tobacco enter the body and get distributed across all parts of the body. Chewing tobacco can cause: – Cancer (mainly oral) – Gum disease – Tooth decay – Tooth loss

3. What are the effects of tobacco/nicotine on women’s fertility and pregnancy?

Women who smoke have greater risks for conception delay and both primary and secondary infertility. It increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and ectopic pregnancy.

4. In what ways does tobacco consumption affect skin and hair?

Tobacco consumption can cause: – Skin cancer – Delayed wound healing – Skin ageing – Contact dermatitis – Atopic dermatitis – Psoriasis

5. Are there any mental health side-effects for women who use tobacco?

Tobacco can cause stress, anxiety, depression, and impairment in moods. Smoking during pregnancy may affect physical growth, mental development, and behavioural characteristics of children at least up to the age of 11 years.

6. In this pandemic with a virus that attacks our respiratory system, how vulnerable does tobacco/smoking make us to COVID19?

Smoking impairs lung function, making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes, which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19.