Female smokers more likely to be killed by their habit than they were in the 1960s

New study says death rates in women have caught up with men

Female smokers nowadays are more likely to die from their habit than they were in the 1960s, a study says.

Trends reported in the New England Journal of Medicine show death rates in women have caught up with men.

Experts blame people starting earlier and smoking more cigarettes in a day for causing the increased risks of lung cancer.

Looking at data from more than two million US women, researchers found women who started during the 1950s and 60s were three times more likely to die from lung cancer than their non-smoking friends.

However, medical records from women who started between 2000-2010 showed they were 25 times more likely to die from lung cancer than their non-smoking friends.

This follows a similar pattern in male smokers, who reached a similar level in the 1980s.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Thun explained that ‘light’ cigarettes could also be a major factor in the rising statistics: ‘The steep increase in risk among female smokers has continued for decades after the serious health risks from smoking were well established, and despite the fact that women predominantly smoked cigarette brands marketed as lower in ‘tar’ and nicotine.

‘So not only did the use of cigarette brands marketed as ‘Light’ and ‘Mild’ fail to prevent a large increase in risk in women, it also may have exacerbated the increase in deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease in male smokers, since the diluted smoke from these cigarettes is inhaled more deeply into the lungs of smokers to maintain the accustomed absorption of nicotine.’

Research from last year suggested women who had smoked for most of their lives died a decade earlier than those who have never tried. Giving up by the age of 30 almost completely avoided the risk of dying early from diseases associated with smoking.

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