Smoking increases bleeding into the brain, study finds

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Past smokers show no increased stroke risk, suggesting new benefit for smoking cessation

A research team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that stroke risk for women increased proportionately with the number of cigarettes smoked each day. In contrast, women who stopped smoking were at no additional risk. The findings appeared in the Nov. 13, 2003 online edition of the journal, Stroke, a publication of the American Heart Association. “We already understood that smoking increases the risk of ischemic stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage for women, but for the first time we documented that there is an important relationship between smoking and intracerebral hemorrhage, a bleeding into the brain tissue, that increased with the amount of cigarettes smoked,” said Tobias Kurth, BWH and Harvard Medical School researcher. “This new information increases the importance of campaigns that encourage current smokers to not only reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, but to stop smoking entirely.” The findings were based on a study of more than 39,000 American women enrolled in the Women’s Health Study who were followed for nine years. During the study period, a total of 70 cases of hemorrhagic stroke were reported and confirmed.