Quit while you're ahead Smokers who stop by 44 can live almost as long as those who never took up the habit
Long-term habit cuts 10 years off your lifespanHowever, quitting by 44 gives you back nine yearsExperts add it doesn't mean you're safe to smoke into middle age as increases risk of diseases such as cancer
11:37 GMT, 24 January 2013
11:43 GMT, 24 January 2013
Quit while you're ahead Smokers who give up by the age of 44 were found to increase their life expectancy by nine years compared to those who continue to puff away
Smokers who quit before they hit middle ages can live almost as long as people who never smoked, groundbreaking new research has found.
The habit is known to cut at least 10 years off a person’s lifespan. However, a comprehensive analysis of health and death records in the U.S found that people who quit smoking before they turn 40 regain most of those lost years.
'Quitting smoking before age 40, and preferably well before 40, gives back almost all of the decade of lost life from continued smoking,' study leader Prabhat Jha, from the University of Toronto said.
'That’s not to say, however, that it is safe to smoke until you are 40 and then stop,' he added.
'Former smokers still have a greater
risk of dying sooner than people who never smoked. But the risk is small
compared to the huge risk for those who continue to smoke.'
His findings were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Jha’s team found that people who quit smoking between ages 35 and 44 gained about nine years and those who quit between ages 45-54 and 55-64 gained six and four years of life, respectively.
The study is unique as it examines the risks of smoking and the benefits of stopping among a representative sample of Americans.
Earlier studies had examined specific groups such as nurses or volunteers who are healthier than average Americans overall. Importantly, the study is among the first to document the generation of women who started smoking when they were young and kept smoking through their adult lives.
'Women who smoke like men, die like men,'Jha said.
For women, the risks of dying from smoking-related causes are 50 per cent greater than found in the studies conducted in the 1980s.
Women and men who smoke both lost a decade of life. Current male or female smokers ages 25-79 had a mortality rate three times higher than people who had never smoked. Never smokers were about twice more likely to live to age 80 than were smokers.
This study adds to recent evidence from Britain, Japan and the United States that smoking risks involve about a decade of life lost worldwide.
Prabhat Jha's large study related deaths of about 16,000 people to their past reported smoking
While about 40 million Americans and 12million Britons who smoke, most of the world’s estimated 1.3 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
On current trends, smoking will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st century as opposed to ‘only’ 100 million in the 20th century.
Jha’s research used data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey in which a representative cross-section of the population is surveyed every year about a broad range of health topics.
More than 200,000 survey participants were linked to the National Death Index, which includes death certificate information for all Americans since 1986. The researchers related about deaths of about 16,000 people to their past reported smoking.
Jha advises various governments around the world on disease control strategies. He is the principal investigator of the Million Death Study in India, one of the largest studies of premature deaths in the world.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Disease Control Priorities-3 project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.