A recent study revealed that smokers, especially female smokers, were more likely to suffer from subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding inside the lining of the brain, compared to people who don't smoke.

The study, published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, suggests that smoking has a dose-dependent and cumulative association with bleeding in the brain, with the highest risk in women that are heavy smokers.

"Female sex has been described as an independent risk factor for subarachnoid hemorrhage, but we found strong evidence that the elevated risk in women is explained by vulnerability to smoking," Joni Valdemar Lindbohm, M.D., a physician in neurosurgery and public health at the University of Helsinki in Finland and lead author of the study, in a statement.

"Our results suggest that age, sex and lifestyle risk factors play a critical role in predicting which patients are at risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage and emphasize the importance of effective smoking cessation strategies."

For the study, researchers randomly selected 65,521 adults in Finish national surveys. Health information of the participants was obtained using questionnaires and physical examination. The study begun in 1972 with average follow-up of 21 years after the enrollment until first stroke, death or study completion on December 21, 2011.

The researchers discovered that as the participants increase their daily smoking habit, so is their risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage also increases. This association is stronger in women. Female heavy smokers consuming 21 to 30 cigarettes a day were more than 8.35 times more likely to develop subarachnoid hemorrhage compared to non-smokers, while men who also smoked the same amount were 2.76 times more likely.

Women who smoked 1 to 10 cigarettes a day were 2.92 times more likely to have subarachnoid hemorrhage, while those who smoked 11 to 20 cigarettes a day were 3.89 times more likely to have brain bleed. Men also smoke the same amount were 1.93 times and 2.13 times more likely to have bleeding in the brain, respectively, compared to non-smokers.

However, researchers noted a significant decrease of subarachnoid hemorrhage risk among the participants who quit smoking. They noted that there is no safe level in smoking and recommended that people should never start or just quit the bad habit.