It's not surprising that quitting smoking is good for your health but it may be surprising to find stopping by 40 could add 10 years to a woman's life. That's what a study published Monday, Oct. 29 in the medical journal The Lancet has found.
The study, it has the unwieldy title of The 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of stopping: a prospective study of one million women in the UK, comes from researchers at the University of Oxford and it examined data from 1.3 million women who, in the years 1996 to 2001, were between 50 and 65 when they joined the joint research effort called 'The Million Women Study'.
The women filled out data on their health habits past and present at the outset, three years down the road and at intervals for another 9 years. From the data they discovered those who'd smoked but quit by 30 lowered their risk of dieing prematurely by 97 percent and those who stopped by 40 lowered their risk of dying early by 90 percent. For those who stopped by 40, that 90 percent means that on average they raised their life expectancy by 10 years.
Smoking and increased risk of early death
The researchers also found that those who were smokers at the start of their study period and who still smoked at the three year interval were more likely to die by the end of the full study period. Further, the method of dieing among smokers was different from that of non-smokers, with smokers more likely to have died from stroke, heart disease, lung disease and cancer.
The study did find that those who quit by 40 still encountered negative health effects from having smoked, but those who did not quit had 10 times more negative health effects. Overall the study found that women are no different than their male counterparts when it comes to smoking, diseases and early deaths.
"If women smoke like men, they die like men - but whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra ten years of life," study researcher Prof. Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford, said in a written statement.