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SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows that women are catching up to men in numbers of people that smoke, and women are at much greater risk of dying from lung cancer now than they were decades ago.
According to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, here are 3 reasons why smoking is especially harmful to women.
Women are more likely to get lung cancer
In a survey of over 217,000 Americans, the risk of dying of lung cancer was more than 25 times higher for female smokers in recent years than for women who never smoked. In the 1960s, it was only three times higher.
One reason is that after World War II, women started taking up the habit at a younger age and began smoking more.
Women are less likely to quit smoking
Women are far less likely to quit smoking than men are. Among people ages 65 to 69, the ratio of male smokers that quit is 4-to-1. But, only about 1/3 of women that began smoking, quit later. The ratio for women of current smokers to former smokers is 2-to-1.
However, the study didn't specify why less women quit smoking than men.
More women die of lung cancer than any other cancer
Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer is not the leading cause of cancer deaths for women.
"More women die of lung cancer than of breast cancer," said Dr. Steven A. Schroeder of the University of California. "But there is no 'race for the cure' for lung cancer, no brown ribbon or high-profile advocacy groups for lung cancer."
Smokers in the U.S. are three times more likely to die between ages 25 and 79 than non-smokers are. With 60 percent of those deaths being attributed to smoking, Dr. Schroeder says that smoking needs more attention as a health hazard.