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Quit Smoking Before 40 and Live As Long As Non-Smokers

Jan 24th, 2013

Quit SmokingSmokers who quit before the age of 40 can live nearly as long as those who never smoked at all, a recent analysis of U.S. health records has found.

In the United States, cigarette smoking causes about 1 in every 5 deaths or about 443,000 deaths annually, this includes deaths caused by secondhand smoke. On average, adult smokers die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

“Quitting smoking before age 40, and preferably well before 40, gives back almost all of the decade of lost life from continued smoking,” said Dr. Prabhat Jha, lead author and head of Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“That’s not to say, however, that it is safe to smoke until you are 40 and then stop,” Dr. Jha said. “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.”

For the study, the team used data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, which conducts annual surveys about several health issues. This includes more than 200,000 cases linked to the National Death Index, which gathers death certificate information for all Americans.

The study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that those who quit between the ages 35 and 44 got back about nine years of life. While quitting between 45 and 54 adds six years. The results offered more reliable numbers compared to previous studies that gathered data from health care workers.

Smoking caused 100 million early deaths in the 20th century and is expected to kill one billion people this century. Majority of these deaths happen in developing countries.

Without increasing taxes on cigarettes, countries should expect the number of smoking-related deaths and diseases to rise, according to Dr. Jha. Implementing higher taxes is the single most effective measure to get adults to quit smoking and prevent children from picking up the habit, he added.

Source: VISTA Health Solutions

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