A UK study suggests that smoking takes at least 10 years off women’s lives but they can significantly reduce that risk if they stop smoking early enough.
Results from Oxford University researchers 12 year One Million Woman Study of female smokers published online in the Lancet this month provides more evidence that women who stop smoking can significantly reduce their chances for premature death and cancer and add at least l0 years to their lives.
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.
If a woman is able to stop smoking before the age of 40, nearly 90% of the increased risk of dying is reduced; if she can stop before the age of 30, she can remove up to 97% of the risk of a premature death.
Women who continued to smoke after 3 years in the study were nearly 3 times as likely to die in the next 9 years, compared with the women who were non smokers in the study.
The stark message from these findings is that this threefold increase among women who smoked means that up to 66 % of all deaths of female smokers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s is due to smoking related illnesses such as COPD, lung cancer, coronary artery disease or stroke. The more they smoked in the study, the greater their chances of dying. Even casual or light smokers (1-9 cigarettes per day) at the beginning of the study, were twice as likely to die compared with non-smokers.
Study co-author Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford in England, said in a journal news release “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.”