Quitting smoking in your 60s can still add years to your life

Thu, Dec 1, 2016

Most smokers know that stubbing out that final cigarette will do wonders for their long-term health. Now there’s added incentive for older smokers: quitting the habit, even in your 60s, can add years to your life, a new study says.


While many older smokers may figure the damage to their bodies has already been done, there is still a benefit to quitting, even later in life, the study’s authors say.


“Even participants who quit smoking as recently as in their 60s were 23 percent less likely to die during follow-up than those who continued to smoke into their 70s,” said lead researcher Sarah Nash, who conducted the study while at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.


From a report by the U.S. department of Health and Human Services:


“For the study, Nash and her colleagues collected data on more than 160,000 men and women, aged 70 and older, who took part in a national health study. The participants completed a questionnaire about their smoking habits in 2004-2005. Deaths among the participants were tracked until the end of 2011.


Read the full text of the study here


“Between 2014 and 2016, the researchers correlated age at death with the age when the participants started or stopped smoking.


“Over an average follow-up of six years, nearly 16 percent of the participants died. Among those who died, 12 percent had never smoked. Death rates increased among those who quit smoking at later ages: 16 percent for those who quit in their 30s, 20 percent if they quit in their 40s, 24 percent for those in their 50s, and 28 percent for those in their 60s, Nash's team found.


Current smokers fared worst of all, with 33 percent dying, Nash said. Death rates for women were lower than men at each age, she added.”


The key takeaway from this and similar studies is to quit smoking no matter your age, said Dr. Gregory Thom, a general and vascular surgeon at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He was not involved in the study.


“Quitting smoking and, better yet, never starting, are two key ways to lead a healthier and potentially longer life,” he said.

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