Women who quit smoking can reduce their risk of premature death

Monday, October 29, 2012
A new study in the journal Lancet reports that adult women smokers more than triple their risk of dying early compared to nonsmokers, and that quitting can virtually eliminate this increased risk of premature death. Furthermore, smoking throughout adulthood reduced the life span of women by roughly 11 years.

Between 1996 and 2001, Dr. Richard Peto and his research team from Oxford University recruited 1.3 million female participants ages 50 to 65. The women filled out questionnaires detailing their smoking history, lifestyle, medical status and sociodemographic factors. The researchers resurveyed the women three and eight years later.  The participants were followed in the U.K.'s National Health Service database, so their medical outcomes could be followed.

The researchers found that women who smoked cigarettes throughout their adult years had triple the rate of dying from smoking-related causes (lung cancer, heart disease, stroke), compared to nonsmokers and to women who quit well before middle age.  Even light smokers (1 to 9 cigarettes per day) had twice the mortality rate of nonsmokers.

The good news: quitting increased the women's life span.  Those who quit smoking before they reached 40 avoided more than 90% of the increased risk of premature death from cigarettes.  Women who quit before age 30 avoided 97% of the added risk.

The bottom line:  if you want a long and healthy life, quit smoking today.  From a cosmetic viewpoint, smoking gives you wrinkles, damages your skin, hair and nails, and dramatically increases your risks of complications during cosmetic surgery.

Thomas Fiala, MD 10/29/2012

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