Women who smoke in the present day are far more likely to die from lung cancer than they were in the 1960s, according to a new study.
Researchers studied 2.2 million women in the United States. The first generation of women, who started smoking during the 1950s and 1960s, had a 2.7 times higher risk of dying from lung cancer than those who had never smoked.
They then looked at medical records of present day female smokers between 2000 and 2010. They found that their risk of dying from lung cancer is 27.5 times higher when compared with non-smokers.
The risk of dying from chronic obstructive lung disease among female smokers was also 4.0 times higher than that of non-smokers in the 1960s. This risk has increased to 22.5 times higher than non-smokers.
The researchers say that women smoking earlier and more heavily than they did in the 1960s have led to the increased risk.
Study leader Dr Michael Thun also blames the increase in ‘light’ and ‘mild’ cigarette brands marketed towards women. Because the smoke from these cigarettes is diluted, it is inhaled more deeply into the lungs to maintain nicotine levels.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Thun said: "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.”
His research was also paired with a study by physician Pabhat Jha, showing that female smokers lose a decade of their life compared with non-smokers.
Dr Thun said that together the studies “show that the epidemic of disease and death caused by cigarette smoking increases progressively over many decades, peaking fifty or more years after the widespread uptake of smoking in adolescence."
However, quitting smoking at any age has been found to dramatically lower mortality from all smoking-related diseases, so it is never too late to kick the habit.
Many health insurance policies offer discounted stop smoking sessions to help their customers quit; non-smokers will also have lower premiums because they are less of a risk to the insurer.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013