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Women Who Quit Smoking May Gain Up to 10 Years of Life: Study
Date:10/28/2012

SATURDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking takes at least 10 years off women's lives but they can significantly reduce that risk if they quit smoking early enough, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at more than 1 million women in the United Kingdom who were recruited when they were aged 50 to 65 and followed for 12 years. Initially, 20 percent of the women were smokers, 28 percent ex-smokers, and 52 percent had never smoked.

Women who still smoked three years into the study were nearly three times more likely to die in the following nine years than nonsmokers. This threefold increased risk of death means that two-thirds of all deaths of female smokers in their 50s, 60s and 70s are caused by smoking, the researchers said.

The death risk among smokers increased sharply with the amount smoked, but even those who were light smokers (1 to 9 cigarettes a day) at the start of the study were twice as likely to die as nonsmokers, according to the report published online Oct. 27 in The Lancet.

The investigators also found that women who had stopped smoking before the age of 40 avoided more than 90 percent of the increased risk of dying associated with continuing to smoke, while those who quit before 30 avoided more than 97 percent of that increased risk.

"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 10 years of life," study co-author Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford in England, said in a journal news release.

The authors of a commentary accompanying the study agreed that the findings are "simple and unequivocal."

"That we had to wait until the 21st century to observe the full consequences in women of a habit that was already widespread in the mid-20th century, when tobacco smoking pervaded much of the developed world, might seem paradoxical," wrote Rachel Hux
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