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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Women Who Quit Smoking Do Live Longer





Life expectancy was dramatically improved among participants in Great Britain's Million Women Study who quit smoking compared with continuous smokers, confirming the previously uncertain benefits of smoking cessation in women, researchers said.

Although women who stopped smoking around age 50 remained at significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality compared with never-smokers, it was much lower than the tripled risk of death seen in current smokers, according to Kirstin Pirie, MSc, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues.

"Even cessation at about 50 years of age avoids at least two-thirds of the continuing smoker's excess mortality in later middle age," the researchers wrote online in The Lancet.

Deaths from lung cancer were reduced markedly in quitters as well, irrespective of participants' age when they stopped smoking, Pirie and colleagues reported.

The Lancet published the report the day before the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Doll, MD, who led many of the early studies proving the dangers of smoking. Pirie and most of her co-authors work in the Richard Doll Building at the University of Oxford.

Changing Times, New Research

Although Doll's research clearly documented the early mortality suffered by smokers, it was conducted at a time when most longtime smokers were men. Smoking among young women did not peak until the 1960s. Thus, the mortality risks faced by women smokers have appeared to be lower in the available data.

That is now set to change with the Million Women Study results, according to Sandra Adams, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

"We knew this about men," she told MedPage Today. "We knew that, as people age and they continue to smoke, they have a lot of smoking-related diseases, and the earlier that they stop the better. But what this demonstrates is that the smoking-related deaths have been markedly underestimated in women."

In an accompanying editorial in The Lancet, Rachel R. Huxley, PhD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and Mark Woodward, MD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, also applauded the study.

31/10/2012  :  John Gever / Med Page Today

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