Smoking Cuts Life Expectancy by More Than 10 Years

Can be partially reversed by quitting smoking

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers typically die at least a decade earlier than nonsmokers, but this can be at least partially reversed by quitting smoking, according to a study published in the Jan. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Prabhat Jha, M.D., from the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto, and colleagues reviewed the smoking and smoking-cessation histories of 202,248 adults, aged 25 years and older (113,752 women and 88,496 men) who were interviewed between 1997 and 2004, and their association with the causes of death by the end of 2006 (8,236 deaths in women and 7,479 in men).

The researchers found that, for those aged 25 to 79 years, current smokers had a higher rate of death from any cause than never smokers (hazard ratio, 3.0 for women and 2.8 for men). This excess mortality was largely due to diseases that could be caused by smoking, including neoplastic, vascular, and respiratory diseases. For those who had never smoked, the likelihood of surviving from 25 to 79 years of age was about twice as high as for current smokers (70 versus 38 percent for women and 61 versus 26 percent for men). The life expectancy of current smokers was more than 10 years shorter than that of never smokers, and those who quit smoking between 25 to 54 years of age gained about six to 10 years of life.

"Smokers lose at least one decade of life expectancy, as compared with those who have never smoked," Jha and colleagues conclude. "Cessation before the age of 40 years reduces the risk of death associated with continued smoking by about 90 percent."

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