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Female smokers are 25 percent more likely than male smokers to develop heart disease, say researchers at the University of Minnesota. It is not known whether the gender difference is due to biological factors or to differences in smoking behavior between men and women.

Lead researcher Rachel R. Huxley said women may be more likely than men to absorb greater amounts of carcinogens and other toxic substances in cigarettes, USA Today reports. She added that although women tend to smoke fewer cigarettes than men, they may smoke more of each cigarette.

Huxley reviewed data from 75 studies on heart disease risk and smoking, which included almost 4 million people. She and her colleagues found women’s risk of heart disease increased by 2 percent for each year a woman smoked, compared with men who smoked for the same length of time. “Tobacco-control programs should consider women, particularly in those countries where smoking among young women is increasing in prevalence,” the researchers wrote in The Lancet.

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