Lung cancer on the rise for women smokers
An alarming study sheds light on the deadly impact smoking has on women who light up.
Looking at information from more than 2.2 million adults ages 55 and older from the 2000s, researchers found that women who smoked were 25.7 times more likely to die from lung cancer. This is a dramatic increase from data in the 1980s, which showed women who smoked were 12.6 times more likely to die from lung cancer.
Because lung cancer can take years to develop, researchers tracked smoking patterns over time to gauge their impact on women’s health. So the jump reflects changes in smoking patterns among women that began in the 1960s.
The authors of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine say the findings confirm the prediction that “women who smoke like men die like men.” However, lung cancer in men has not increased like it has in women. In fact, the risk of death from lung cancer among male smokers has been level since the 1980s.
Statistics actually show that the risk of death from lung cancer in men is about the same as it is for female smokers today. The risk of death from chronic obstructive lung disease continues to increase in both sexes.
Some health experts say the increase may be due in part to the introduction of blended tobacco lowering the pH of cigarette smoke, making the smoke easier to inhale deeper into the lungs.
There is good news for those who can quit, researchers say. Quitting smoking at any age lowers the risk of death from smoking-related diseases and giving up the habit before the age of 40 is even more effective at cutting risk.
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