Research: Women Who Smoke Like Men, Die Like Men

Analyses from two historical and five contemporary US cohorts suggest that the risks  for both sexes are now:

  • About 25 times more likely than never smokers to die of lung cancer;
  • Between 22 and 25 times more likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
  • Nearly three times more likely to die of ischaemic heart disease.

A second cohort study linked smoking histories of around 202,000 US adults with mortality during seven years of follow-up to 2006. All cause mortality was three times higher for smokers than for similar adults who had never smoked (hazard ratio for women 3.0, 99% CI 2.7 to 3.3; hazard ratio for men 2.8, 2.4 to 3.1).

The authors estimate that smokers lose a whole decade of life expectancy and halve their chances of surviving from 25 to 79 years (38% v 70% for women and 26% v 61% for men).

In further analyses, smokers who stopped:

  • Before the age of 34 years regained the whole 10 years;
  • At 35-44 years of age gained nine years of life expectancy;
  • At 45-54 years gained six years;
  • At 55-65 gained four years.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine 2013;368:341-350 and 368:351-364.

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