Researchers studied data on more than 780,000 people gathered by the US Cancer Prevention Study II. More than 4400 of the people in the study had died from colorectal cancer.
Writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the researchers report that male smokers were 32 per cent more likely to die from the disease than non-smokers - and women smokers had a 41 per cent higher death rate.
Death rates increased in line with the length of time that people smoked and the quantity of cigarettes they inhaled. And among ex-smokers, risk of dying reduced in accordance with the length of time since the last cigarette.
Death rates increased with length of time people smoked and number of cigarettes inhaled.
Dr Michael Thun, ACS vice-president for epidemiology and surveillance research, said, "The smoking epidemic in women began decades later than in men.
"This may explain in part why the trends in colorectal cancer incidence and death rates differed between genders during the fifties, sixties, and seventies, with male rates being higher than female rates.
"As the smoking rates increased for women, the colorectal rates became very similar for both genders."
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