Women who quit smoking before age 40 reduce their risk of dying by nearly 90 percent; those who quit before age 30 can remove up to 97 percent of the risk of premature death, according to researchers from Oxford University.
"Although the hazards of smoking until age 40 and then stopping are substantial, the hazards of continuing are ten times greater," the authors said.
The study looked at 1.2 million women between the ages of 50 and 69, asking participants questions regarding lifestyle and smoking habits. Twenty percent of the women were smokers, 52 percent had never smoked, and 28 percent were ex-smokers. Twelve years later, nearly 66,000 of the women had died.
Researchers followed up with the women three years later and found that those who had continued to smoke were nearly three times as likely to die in the next nine years, compared with their smoke-free counterparts.
"The take-home message is that this threefold increase among women who smoked means that up to 66 percent of all deaths of female smokers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s is due to smoking related illnesses such as COPD, lung cancer, coronary artery disease or stroke," Forbes reported. "The more they smoked in the study, the greater their chances of dying."
According to a 12-year study of one million female smokers published on Saturday in the Lancet, women who quit smoking can add at least a decade to their lives.
While the underlying mechanisms remain unknown, researchers suggest smoking's effect on dampening the protective effects of estrogen on cardiovascular systems may put women who smoke at a higher risk than men for heart disease when they light up, CNN reported.
"Now that we know better, these findings should go a long way toward convincing people that it's never too late to quit smoking," The Atlantic reported the authors saying.
Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.
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