Female vulnerability to the effects of smoking on health outcomes in older people

TitleFemale vulnerability to the effects of smoking on health outcomes in older people
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsHaghani, A, Arpawong, TE, Kim, JK, Lewinger, JPablo, Finch, CE, Crimmins, EM
JournalPloS one
ISBN Number1932-6203
KeywordsCardiovascular disease, Smoking, Women's Health

Cigarette smoking is among the leading risk factors for mortality and morbidity. While men have a higher smoking prevalence, mechanistic experiments suggest that women are at higher risk for health problems due to smoking. Moreover, the comparison of smoking effects on multiple conditions and mortality for men and women has not yet been done in a population-based group with race/ethnic diversity. We used proportional hazards models and restricted mean survival time to assess differences in smoking effects by sex for multiple health outcomes using data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a population-representative cohort of individuals aged 50+ (n = 22,708, 1992-2014). Men had experienced more smoking pack-years than women (22.0 vs 15.6 average pack-years). Age of death, onset of lung disorders, heart disease, stroke, and cancer showed dose-dependent effects of smoking for both sexes. Among heavy smokers (>28 pack-years) women had higher risk of earlier age of death (HR = 1.3, 95%CI:1.03-1.65) and stroke (HR = 1.37, 95%CI:1.02-1.83). Risk of cancer and heart disease did not differ by sex for smokers. Women had earlier age of onset for lung disorders (HR = 2.83, 95%CI:1.74-4.6), but men risk due to smoking were higher (Smoking-Sex interaction P<0.02) than women. Passive smoke exposure increased risk of earlier heart disease (HR = 1.33, 95%CI:1.07-1.65) and stroke (HR:1.54, 95%CI:1.07-2.22) for non-smokers, mainly in men. Smoking cessation after 15 years partially attenuated the deleterious smoking effects for all health outcomes. In sum, our results suggest that women are more vulnerable to ever smoking for earlier death and risk of stroke, but less vulnerable for lung disorders. From an epidemiological perspective, sex differences in smoking effects are important considerations that could underlie sex differences in health outcomes. These findings also encourage future mechanistic experiments to resolve potential mechanisms of sex-specific cigarette smoke toxicity.

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Short TitlePLoS One
Citation Key10830
PubMed ID32497122
PubMed Central IDPMC7272024