Joining a growing list of reasons why smoking is stupid, a new research study revealed that women who smoke are at a much higher risk for heart disease than men. Specifically, they have a 25% increased chance of a heart attack.
Although the exact reason isn’t known, researchers theorize that women are at a higher risk due to biological differences in how their bodies react to cigarette smoke. Lead researcher Rachel Huxley explained to USA Today:
Women may absorb more carcinogens and other toxic agents in cigarettes compared to men. In addition, women have different smoking habits from men. 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.
After evaluating nearly 4 million smokers and non-smokers, Huxley and her colleague, Mark Woodward from the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University not only found a greater risk of heart disease among female smokers, but an increased risk by 2% for every year the women smoked. They also found women have twice the risk of dying from lung cancer.
Need more reasons to quit? Consider what happens to your body if you stop smoking right now:
- In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
- In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
- In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
- In 72 hours your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase.
- In 2 weeks your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
- In 3 to 9 months coughing, wheezing, and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
- In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
- In 5 years your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
- In 10 years your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
- In 15 years your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.