Study Says Women More Vulnerable to Tobacco Effects
LONDON (Reuters) - Women are more vulnerable than men to the breathing problems and other harmful effects of smoking, Norwegian doctors said Wednesday.
Although they are not sure why, the doctors suspect the answer may be in the size of women's lungs.
``We don't know the exact cause of this. But it is probably because lungs of women are generally smaller (than men's),'' Arnulf Langhammer of the National Institute of Public Health in Norway said in a telephone interview.
``If they smoke the same amount, women are exposed to higher concentrations of noxious gas.''
Langhammer and his colleagues found all smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to report respiratory symptoms like wheezing, breathlessness and coughing.
``There was a strong association between tobacco smoking and respiratory symptoms. With increasing cigarette burden, women had a 50 percent higher risk of having respiratory problems and asthma,'' Langhammer added.
In a study of more than 65,000 people published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers found the prevalence of asthma rose in line with the number of cigarettes women smoked. There was no similar increase in men.
``Higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms and current asthma in women compared with men with the same smoke burden or daily cigarette consumption indicate women are more susceptible to tobacco smoking than men,'' Langhammer and his colleagues said in the study.
Those who participated in the study answered questions about their smoking habits and respiratory illnesses. Thirty percent of the men and 31 percent of the women were smokers.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases, affecting the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.
The number of sufferers has risen by more than 50 percent in developed countries during the last 25 years to leave about 150 million people worldwide stricken by the condition.
Scientists suspect sterile modern lifestyles are contributing to the increased incidence of the disease, for which there is no cure although drugs can relieve many of the symptoms.