Researcher Juhua Luo of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington said some may be reluctant to quit smoking because it may result in some weight gain, which could increase the risk of diabetes, which could increase the risk of heart disease.
Luo and colleagues analyzed health data, notably on heart disease, in about 104,000 women ages 50-79 and found the benefit is on the side of quitting smoking.
"Quitting smoking helps women avoid heart disease, and the risk goes down in a relatively short time after stopping," Luo said in a statement.
Women who quit smoking had a lower risk of heart disease, whether they had diabetes or not, the study said.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.