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Smoking Ups Heart Disease Risk In Women

August 11, 2011

A new study has found that the risk of heart disease linked to smoking is 25 percent higher for women.

Scientists believe that toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke may have a more potent effect on women due to biological differences.

The team analyzed data on about 4 million individuals from 86 studies.  After adjusting for other risk factors, they found the increased risk of heart disease linked to smoking was 25 percent higher for women.

The longer a women smoked, the greater her heart disease risk was compared with that of a man who had smoked for the same length of time.

Authors Dr Rachel Huxley, from the University of Minnesota, and Dr Mark Woodward, from Johns Hopkins University, of Maryland, wrote in a statement: “Women might extract a greater quantity of carcinogens and other toxic agents from the same number of cigarettes than men.

“This occurrence could explain why women who smoke have double the risk of lung cancer compared with their male counterparts.

“Physicians and health professionals should be encouraged to increase their efforts at promotion of smoking cessation in all individuals.

“Present trends in female smoking, and this report, suggest that inclusion of a female perspective in tobacco-control policies is crucial.”

Twenty-one percent of women and 22 percent of men in the U.K. smoke cigarettes.

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement: “It’s alarming to see such a large study confirm that women are so much more at risk of heart disease from smoking than men.

“Despite women generally smoking fewer cigarettes a day than men, women appear to be substantially more at risk of getting heart disease. Biologically, women seem more susceptible to the dangers of smoking and passive smoking.

“There is free support widely available on the NHS to help both men and women quit but more effort needs to be made to encourage women not to smoke in the first place ““ particularly the many young women who take up this addictive and harmful habit every day.

“This is very timely research as tobacco companies are increasingly targeting women with slim brands and slick packaging.”

Study results are published in The Lancet.

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