Source: The Mercury, 13 January 1994, p.4


Smoking big
risk for women

Women smokers run twice
the risk of lung cancer 
if they smoke the same 
number of cigarettes as 
men, a new study has found. 
The study reported in the 
American Journal of Epidem-
iology, is one of the first 
to reveal that smoking 
affects men and women 
differently. It found that 
younger women smokers were 
seven times more likely to 
get cancer as non-smoking 
women but ran five times 
the risk of non-smoking men.

The researchers converted 
the data into "pack years", 
with each year equivalent 
to 7305 cigarettes, or an 
average of a pack a day. 
Women who smoked for more 
than 30 pack years ran 27 
times the risk of getting 
lung cancer as non-smoking 
women. But men who smoked 
for the same number of 
years were 11 times more 
likely to develop cancer 
than non-smoking men. For 
60 pack years and above, 
women ran a risk of cancer 
that was 82 times higher 
than if they did not smoke, 
and men ran a risk 23 times 
higher.

The researchers, from 
America's Yale University, 
Canada's University of Tor-
onto and the Ontario Cancer 
and Treatment Foundation, 
interviewed 442 women and 
403 men with lung cancer for 
the study. The smokers were 
matched with data from 410 
healthy women and 362 healthy 
men of about the same age. 
Family members and spouses of 
smokers were also carefully 
interviewed to establish de-
tails of each person's smok-
ing history and the number 
of cigarettes they had smoked.

Study leader Dr. Harvey Risch, 
associate professor of epidem-
iology and public health at 
Yale's school of medicine, 
said most of the smokers averag-
ed a pack a day and had smoked 
about 40 years. But despite the 
results, Dr. Risch told the New 
York Times he could not establ-
ish any reasons why women were 
more susceptible to lung cancer 
than men.

Victorian Anti-Cancer Council 
epidemiology head Dr. Graham 
Giles said yesterday the find-
ings of the research made it 
vital that women - especially 
young women - stopped smoking. 
He said very little research 
had been done into the differ-
ences of smoking on the sexes 
because most women had not 
smoked for as long as men.


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