After reviewing data on 2.4 million people and 44,000 cardiac events, the article's authors found female smokers have a 25 percent greater risk for coronary heart disease than males who smoke cigarettes.

Women who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop heart disease than men, researchers said on Wednesday.

The researchers, published in British medical journal,The Lancet, also found the difference in risk for male and female smokers increased by two percent for every year they smoke.

"It hasn't been widely recognized that there had been this sex difference," said Rachel Huxley of the University of Minnesota, the article's lead author, in an interview.

Huxley, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university suggested, "Women may absorb more carcinogens and other toxic agents in cigarettes compared to men."

The findings could be attributed to physical differences between men and women, or differences in smoking habits, according to the study.

Huxley and her colleagues, Mark Woodward from the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, gathered data from 75 studies, involving almost 4 million people, that looked at the risk of heart disease between smokers and nonsmokers.

"For example, there are some data that indicate women will absorb more of the harmful agents in a cigarette compared to men," said Huxley. "Women may inhale more smoke or they may smoke more intensively."

Huxley said her next step is to complete a similar study to examine if the same finding can be applied to other complications related to smoking, such as strokes.

Jane Landon of the UK’s National Heart Forum told the BBC that tobacco companies specifically target women, with "slim cigarettes in small, attractive packs in appealing textures and colours."

A fifth of the world's 1.1 billion smokers are women and an analysis released in March said millions of women in developing countries risked disease and death as their rising economic and political status leads them to smoke more.