Women smokers more likely to get heart disease than menRisk increases the longer a woman smokes
Women smokers are 25 per cent more likely to get heart disease than men, a study has found.
Cigarette smoke toxins appear to affect women's health worse than men, possibly due to the differences in biology between the sexes, the researchers said.
In the UK, around 21 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men are smokers.
The study by the University of Minnesota analysed data taken from 86 studies, involving more than four million people which looked at smoking and the risk of heart disease.
The study also found that the risk increased by two per cent for every additional year of follow-up, meaning that the longer a woman smokes, the higher her risk of developing heart disease compared to a man who has smoked for the same length of time.
However, researchers pointed out that the risk to women may be even higher, as women, on average, smoke fewer cigarettes in a day compared with men.
The authors wrote: "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."
Ellen Mason, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This is very timely research as tobacco companies are increasingly targeting women with slim brands and slick packaging.
"Introducing plain packaging would help to increase the effectiveness of health warnings and reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products."
The findings are published in Online First by the Lancet medical journal.
This article was published on Thu 11 August 2011
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