Smoking Causes Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema
Smoking and Stroke Risk: Are Women Different?
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We have long known that smoking is a risk factor for all cardiovascular diseases. In fact, smoking nearly doubles the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Some studies have suggested that the effects of smoking may different and even greater in women than in men. In fact, this seems to be true for heart disease. Whether smoking has different effects on stroke in women and men wasn't clear. But a new study just released in the medical journalStroke shed some light on the issue.
What did the study find?
Researchers combined information from 81 other studies which together included nearly 4 million individuals who altogether had about 42,000 strokes. Here's what they found:
1. Smoking raises the risk of stroke in both men and women by almost double.
2. Overall, the risk of smoking on developing a stroke was the same in men and women.
3. However, among Western women, there was a greater risk of smoking on developing stroke compared to men. Among Asian populations, there was no clear difference between men and women.
4. Reminding us of the value of quitting smoking, the study also showed that both men and women have similar benefit in lowering the risk of stroke when they quit smoking.
What does this mean for you?
Stroke remains a major cause of death and disability world wide. In the United States, stroke is one of the top 5 leading causes of death. We have long known that smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. And in the Western world, it appears that for women, smoking may be an even greater risk factor than in men. Fortunately this study reminds us that quitting smoking is still of major benefit in lowering the risk of stroke. Those benefits are the same for both men and women.
What changes can you make now?
Quit smoking. If you still smoke, please quit. I understand it's hard. But it's never too late to try. There are lots of resources and lots of ways to quit. The first step is to decide to do it. And don't be afraid to ask for help. There are lots of tools to help you - patch, gum, spray, electronic cigarettes, medications. Some communities even provide these resources for free. Just ask.
So while women and men have similar risk of stroke from smoking worldwide, there might just be a greater risk for women in the Western world. Either way, we know quitting smoking is still of benefit no matter where you live and no matter whether you are a man or a woman. It's never too late to get healthy and stay healthy.
Video: Smoking and Stroke in Younger Women
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