Better yet, never start to smoke!
We have been warned about the dangers of lung cancer and serious health issues related to smoking. But recently researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the more cigarettes a woman smokes, the greater the risk of developing peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, a debilitating condition in which narrowing of the arteries restricts the flow of blood to the extremities. Symptoms of PAD can include numbness and pain in the arms and/or legs. In serious cases where blood flow is reduced, the disease can cause infection and lead to amputation, stroke, heart disease and heart attack.
The Harvard researchers relied on the Women’s Health Study which began in 1993 and followed nearly 40,000 healthy women, ages 45 and older, to determine the relationship between smoking and PAD. Although smoking cessation reduced the chance of developing PAD, women remained at risk for for the disease long after they stop smoking. Women who stopped smoking within the past ten years were about half as likely to develop the disease as women who were current smokers. Women who stopped smoking 10 to 20 years ago were nearly 25% as likely, while those who quit smoking at least 20 years ago were %15 as likely to develop PAD.
Although men were not part of this research project, the researchers stressed the importance of smoking prevention, cessation and long-term smoking abstinence to reduce the risk for PAD in men and women.