Women smokers face greater health risks than in past: Study

January 27, 2013 - 1:19:34 am

WASHINGTON: Women smokers are at a greater risk than at any time in recent decades from lung cancer and other ailments linked to their tobacco use, according to a study.

The research in the New England Journal of Medicine found a marked increase in deaths among female smokers from lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease and other health ailments.

The study of more than 2.2 million adults 55 years and older found that women who smoked in the 1960s had a 2.7 times higher risk of lung cancer than those who never smoked. But among present-day female smokers, that risk is 25.7 times higher when compared to non-smokers,” the report said.

The researchers found that the increased risk from smoking have been significant enough to outweigh the effects of medical advances that that have lengthened the lives of the rest of the population over the past half-century.

The study was led by Michael Thun, a physician who recently retired as vice president emeritus of the American Cancer Society, 

He said it is worrisome that “the steep increase in risk among female smokers has continued for decades after the serious health risks from smoking were well established.”

A proliferation in “light” and “mild” cigarette brands marketed toward women explains at least part of the increase in adverse health consequences, he said. Thun said that “diluted smoke from these cigarettes is inhaled more deeply into the lungs of smokers to maintain the accustomed absorption of nicotine.”

His research was paired with study  by Prabhat Jha, a physician at St Michael’s Hospital which is affiliated with the University of Toronto. That study found that smokers lose an average of about 10 years over over their lifetimes compared to people who have never smoked.