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Women 'suffer more from smoking'
LONDON, England -- Women suffer more from smoking than men because of their generally smaller lungs, scientists say.
Women are more vulnerable than men to the breathing problems and other harmful effects of smoking, Norwegian doctors found during two years of study.
They are not sure why, but suspect the answer lies 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.
"If they smoke the same amount, women are exposed to higher concentrations of noxious gas."
Langhammer and his colleagues looked at 65,000 people before publishing their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on Wednesday.
The more cigarettes women smoked, the more sign there was that cases of asthma increased, unlike for men, researchers found.
"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.
Smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to report respiratory symptoms like wheezing, breathlessness and coughing, Langhammer added.
"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 said.
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.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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National Institute of Public Health
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