Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Smoking Ups Stroke Risk for Young Women

But Study Shows Cutting Down or Quitting Smoking Can Reduce the Risk
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News

Aug. 14, 2008 -- Young women who smoke are twice as likely to have a stroke as their nonsmoking peers, according to a new study. And the more cigarettes a woman smokes per day, the bigger her risk.

The study was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers, who studied women ages 15 to 49, found that women who smoke one to 10 cigarettes per day increase their stroke risk 2.2 times. Women who smoke 11 to 20 cigarettes per day increase stroke risk 2.5 times, while those who smoke 21 to 39 per day increase stroke risk more than fourfold. The heaviest smokers -- those who smoke 40 or more cigarettes per day -- increase their risk 9.1 times.

The study followed 466 women who had suffered their first strokes. A comparison group consisted of 604 women of similar age, race, and ethnicity who had not had a stroke. A detailed smoking history was obtained during face-to-face interviews. Women were classified according to their smoking status as never-smokers, former smokers, or current smokers.

"Our study adds strong evidence that cutting down helps reduce stroke risk, but quitting is unquestionably the best option," researcher John Cole, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says in a news release.

In 2005, an estimated 21% of American women aged 18-44 were cigarette smokers, according to researchers. The good news is that when women stop smoking, their risk of having a stroke decreases. Stroke risk decreases significantly three years after smoking stops. After five years of being smoke-free, former smokers have the same risk of stroke as never-smokers. And the earlier that smokers quit, the better. People who quit smoking prior to age 35 can have the same life expectancy as those who have never smoked.

The researchers point out that media campaigns and high prices for tobacco products help curb smoking rates among young people. "Our study supports the need to target smoking as a preventable and modifiable risk factor for cerebrovascular disease in young women," they write.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Heart Association helped fund the study.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch