Quit Now, Enjoy an Extra Decade

Smoking was found to increase the risk of death three fold

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) How about an extra 10 years of life for free? The body can repair a lot of smoking damage, but only if a smoker quits. Kicking the habit changes lives.

A recent study evaluated smoking-related deaths in the United States over the past 15 years. Compared to non-smokers, current-smokers had three times the risk of dying before seeing their 80th birthday.

“Smoking is associated with a decade of lost life, and cessation reduces that loss by about 90 percent," the authors said.

"Don’t hesitate, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW."

Prabhat Jha, MD, from the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto, Canada, worked with a team of colleagues from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Oxford to investigate smoking in the 21st century.

For the study, data was collected from the US National Health Interview Survey on 113,752 women and 88,496 men. Each of the participants was 25 years of age or older at the time of interviews, which were conducted between 1997 and 2004. A total of 8,236 females and 7,479 males in the group died before 2007. 

Study results showed that rates of death from any cause among participants between 25 and 79 years of age were three times higher for smokers than for people who had never smoked.

Smoking-related illnesses resulting in death included cancers, respiratory diseases and vascular diseases.

Researchers found the odds of living through 79 years of age were twice as high for people who had never smoked compared to smokers. Specifically, 70 percent of female non-smokers lived to at least 79 years of age versus 38 percent of female smokers. A total of 61 percent of male non-smokers lived at least 79 years, compared to 26 percent of male smokers.

Participants who quit smoking between the ages of 25 and 34 gained about 10 years of life compared to those who continued to smoke. Those who quit between the ages of 35 and 44 gained around 9 years of life compared to continued smokers. And quitters between the ages of 45 and 54 gained roughly 6 years of life compared to smokers.

The authors concluded, “Smokers lose at least one decade of life expectancy, as compared with those who have never smoked. Cessation before the age of 40 years reduces the risk of death associated with continued smoking by about 90 percent.”

The authors recommended increasing smoking cessation efforts nationally and internationally to help lower smoking-related deaths. 

This study was published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Disease Control Priorities Project and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding for this project.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 22, 2013
Last Updated:
August 19, 2013