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Women who quit smoking before middle age live about 10 years longer than continuous smokers, according to a study published in The Lancet.1
Kirstin Pirie, MSc, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 1.3 million women from 1996 to 2001. Participants were resurveyed after 3 and 8 years and were followed to January 1, 2011, through national mortality records. The women were asked at enrollment whether they were current or ex-smokers and how many cigarettes they currently smoked. Those who were ex-smokers at both entry and the 3-year resurvey and had stopped smoking before age 55 were categorized by the age at which they had stopped smoking.
The investigators found that two-thirds of all deaths of smokers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s were caused by smoking. Additionally, they concluded that smokers lose at least 10 years off of their lives.
“Although the hazards of smoking until age 40 years and then stopping are substantial, the hazards of continuing are 10 times greater,” the authors wrote. “Stopping before age 40 years (and preferably well before age 40 years) avoids more than 90% of the excess mortality caused by continuing smoking; stopping before age 30 years avoids more than 97% of it.”
- Pirie K, Peto R, Reeves GK, et al. The 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of stopping: a prospective study of one million women in the UK [published online ahead of print October 27, 2012]. Lancet. doi:10.1016/ S0140-6736(12)61720-6.