The Washington Post recently reported about a milestone study addressing the ills related to smoking. The study, led by Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto, found that quitting smoking by the age of 40 considerably lowers the risk of an early death.
Between 1997-2004, 217,000 adults were surveyed by the Federal National Health Survey. The study, published in the New England Journal titled, “21st-Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States,” examined the relationship between the surveys to cause-of-death records in the National Death Index.
The study arrived at several notable and hopeful conclusions:
· Lifetime smokers lost an average ten years of life expectancy, while those who quit between the ages of 35-44, restored nine of those years.
· Smokers who quit between the ages of 45 and 54 regained six otherwise lost years, and four years were restored for those who quit between the ages of 55 and 64.
· Quitting before the age of 35 wiped away an entire decade of lost life expectancy.
While uplifting, the findings do not give smokers a free pass. Jha stated, “The risk for lung cancer doesn’t disappear and the risk of respiratory disease doesn’t disappear…but the acute risk for heart attack or stroke pretty much disappears.” In other words, the years gained from quitting is related to the clearing of arteries, thus preventing heart disease and stroke. The same cannot be said for the lungs.
With that in mind, it is important to remember that damage to the lungs are irreversible, so early smoking cessation is imperative to prevent lung cancer and other respiratory diseases such as COPD.
The study also concluded that:
· Current smokers in the study died early at a rate triple that of people who never smoked.
· Few lifetime smokers reached age 80: only 38 percent of female smokers and 26 percent of male smokers reached that age, versus 70 percent of women who never smoked and 61 percent of men who never smoked.
Smoking is the one the country’s leading causes of preventable death, and kills an average of 443,000 individuals ever year.
Remember: No matter what, it is never too late to stop smoking. Click here for help!
What can we as the COPD community do to inform our friends and family about the dangers of smoking? Do you have any stories to share about your efforts to quit, or how you help a loved one quit? Share with us!