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Women smokers who quit young cut death risk

“Women smokers who quit before 30 cut death risk by 97%”, The Guardian reports. It goes on to warn that ‘women who smoke into middle-age have three times the death rate of non-smokers and risk dying at least 10 years early’.

The news is based on the results of an impressive study that followed 1.2 million women aged from 50 to 69 years old, for an average of 12 years to determine the full effects of prolonged smoking and quitting on women in the UK.

The study authors report that smoking prevalence in young women did not peak until the 1960s, so the full risks of smoking can only be seen now. They found that women who reported smoking at the start of the study (recruitment 1996-2001), had an almost tripled risk of death from any cause compared to women who had never smoked.

The good news is that permanently quitting smoking reduced their risk of death compared to women who continued smoking. The researchers noticed a ‘sooner-the-better’ pattern – women who quit smoking before the age of 30 reduced their risk of having a smoking-associated death by a massive 97%. Even women who quit later in life, such as around the age of 50, still experienced a large reduction in ‘excess’ mortality risk associated with smoking (72%).

The study should not be interpreted along the lines of ‘it’s okay to smoke until I am 30, and then I can quit’, as the results clearly found that smoking at any age, for any duration, increased the risk of premature death.

However, it does show that quitting at any age, brings important health benefits and that it is never too late.

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