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Smoking Coupled With Obesity Raises Death Risk
Date:11/7/2008

Two factors increase risk 8-fold, researchers say

FRIDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Everyone knows smoking and being obese is not healthy for you, but now a new study shows the odds of dying early are highest among obese smokers.

"We know that obesity and smoking by themselves are important health risk factors," said lead researcher Annemarie Koster, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Institute on Aging. "We found that smoking and obesity are independent predictors of mortality, but smoking and being obese especially increases the mortality risk."

Smoking and obesity both carry a significant mortality risk, but particularly smoking, Koster said. "It seems that smoking cessation was associated with significantly lower mortality risk in every weight group," she said. "Quitting smoking will definitely improve your mortality risk, no matter in what weight group you are."

Losing weight will also lower mortality risk, Koster said. "Both losing weight and quitting smoking will increase your health and lower your mortality risk," she said.

The report was published in the November issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, Koster's group collected data on 3.5 million members of the AARP, aged 50 to 71. In 1995-1996, and again in 1996-1997, AARP sent out questionnaires asking people about diet, family history of cancer, physical activity, hormone replacement therapy, weight, waist size, and smoking.

Using the U.S. Social Security Administration Death Master File, the researchers linked the AARP data with death records of the survey participants from 1996 to 2006. During that period, almost 20,000 men and 7,500 women died.

The researchers found that as weight increased, so did the rate of death. Across all weights, people who smoked had the highest death rates.

In fact, obese smokers had a six to eight times greater risk of dying compared
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