Even at the age of 64, kicking the habit can add four years to a person's life, while quitting by age 34 can increase life expectancy by a decade, according to a study published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
After analyzing health data from more than 200,000 Americans, researchers calculated that current smokers were three times more likely to die during the course of the study compared with people who had never smoked. For the most part, their deaths were caused by smoking-related ailments, including heart and lung disease. Overall, their odds of surviving to age 80 were half as good as for never-smokers.
But the study, one of two large-scale surveys in the journal providing updated information on smoking and mortality, saw significant benefits for those who quit. Giving up smoking between the ages of 35 and 44 was associated with a gain of nine years of life, and those who quit between 45 and 54 lived an extra six years.
"The good news is, because the risks are so big, the benefits of quitting are quite substantial," said study leader Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Global Health Research, based in Toronto.
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