Women smokers face a 25% higher risk of contracting coronary heart disease than their male counterparts, US researchers have warned.
And the extra risk for female smokers increases by 2% for every additional year she is smoking compared with that of a man who has smoked for the same length of time, according to the study published in The Lancet.
Pooled data on around four million people from 86 studies was analysed by Dr Rachel Huxley, from the University of Minnesota, and Dr Mark Woodward, from Johns Hopkins University of Maryland.
After taking into account other risk factors, they concluded that toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke may have a more potent effect on women due to biological differences.
They called for greater efforts to promote “smoking cessation in all individuals” and warned that “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.”
- Huxley RR, et al. Cigarette smoking as a risk factor for coronary heart disease in women compared with men: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. The Lancet 2011; Advance online publication.