New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Smokers who quit before the age of 40 can expect to live almost as long as those who never smoked, according to a new report. The study, published in the journal NEJM Evidence, showed that those who quit smoking at any age return close to the survival of never smokers 10 years after quitting, and about half of that benefit occurs in just three years.
“Quitting smoking is ridiculously effective at reducing the risk of death, and people can reap those benefits remarkably quickly,” said Prabhat Jha, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
The study included 1.5 million adults in four countries (US, UK, Canada and Norway), followed for 15 years. Smokers aged 40 to 79 had almost three times the risk of dying compared to those who never smoked, meaning that on average they lost between 12 and 13 years of life.
The researchers found that former smokers reduced their risk of death by 1.3 times (or 30 percent more) compared to those who had never smoked.
“Quitting smoking at any age was associated with longer survival, and even those who quit smoking for less than three years gained up to six years of life expectancy,” the study noted.
According to Jha, many people think it’s too late to quit smoking, especially in middle age.
“But these results contradict that line of thinking. It is never too late, the impact is rapid and the risk of major diseases can be reduced, which means a longer and better quality of life,” he added.
Additionally, researchers found that quitting smoking reduced the risk of dying from vascular diseases and cancer, in particular. Ex-smokers also reduced their risk of death from respiratory diseases, but slightly less, probably due to residual lung damage.