WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Women who smoke have a 25 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than male smokers do, according to a huge, new study.
Although the reason for the higher risk isn't known, researchers suspect there are biological differences in how women's bodies react to damaging cigarette smoke.
"Women may absorb more carcinogens and other toxic agents in cigarettes compared to men," said lead researcher Rachel R. Huxley, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.
In addition, women have different smoking habits from men, she added. "Despite smoking fewer cigarettes than men on average, they may smoke more of the cigarette. They might smoke right to the end of the cigarette, compared to men -- we just don't know," she said.
For the study, Huxley and her colleague, Mark Woodward from the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, gathered data from 75 studies, involving almost 4 million people, that looked at the risk of heart disease between smokers and nonsmokers.
This type of study is called a meta-analysis, the object of which is to pool data from a variety of sources to try to identify significant trends.
Combined, these studies included 3,912,809 people, more than 67,000 of whom had heart disease. In the 75 studies that included data on the differences between men and women and included 2.4 million people, the researchers found that women who smoked had a 25 percent higher risk of having a heart attack than men who smoked.
That risk increased by 2 percent for every year the women smoked, compared with men who smoked equally as long, Huxley and Woodward found.
The risk to women could actually be greater than what was uncovered in this study, Huxley added. On average, women smoke fewer cigarettes than men and while the number of women who smoke has peaked in the Unit
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