Huxley noted that they also found a higher risk for lung cancer among women who smoked, compared with men. "Women who smoked had twice the risk of dying from lung cancer, compared to men," she said.
"So this is not just a one-off thing," Huxley said. "There is some physiological or behavioral reason why women who smoke have a much greater risk of contracting illness, compared to their male counterparts," she said.
The report was published in the Aug. 10 online edition of The Lancet.
What the research shows, Huxley added, is that anti-smoking campaigns need to be focused toward women as well as men. "Tobacco control programs really need to have a female perspective; it can't be a generalized message, it has to be sex-specific," she said.
Dr. Carolyn M. Dresler, director of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program at the Arkansas Department of Health and coauthor of an accompanying journal editorial, agreed with that assessment.
"Women smoking in the world is a growth market for the tobacco industry," she said. Ways need to be found to "counter the very effective marketing of the tobacco industry," she added.
And she noted, "If we don't work to focus effective strategies for preventing and treating coronary heart disease in both sexes, we might improve only one of the sexes and leave the other behind."
Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a cardiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and a spokesman for the American Heart Association, noted that "smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in men and women worldwide."
It is very well-documented that smoking raises the risk of coronary heart disease in men and women, he added. "Complete cessation from smoking is by far the single biggest improvement to health that women and men who smoke can make," Fonarow said.
All rights reserved