Quit Smoking Before Your Turn 40 And You Could Gain Those Years Back
January 24, 2013

New Study Highlights The Growing Number Of Female Smokers

[ Watch the Video: Quitting Smoking Before Age 40 ]

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

While the risks of smoking have been widely studied in the past, shifting demographics and societal norms dictate that fresh data and analyses on the deadly habit will always be available.

For women, smoking did not become socially acceptable until the 20th century and did not become widespread until the 1960s. The impact of a lifetime of smoking on that initial wave of female smokers is just now coming to light.

According to a new study coming out of the University of Toronto, female smokers are about 26 times more likely to die of lung cancer than their nonsmoking counterparts. The new study´s calculated rate is twice as high as the average rate cited in the 1980s.

"The group of women that started smoking seriously in and around 1960 can be followed up only now – fully five decades later – to understand what are the full consequences of smoking among women," lead researcher Dr. Prabhat Jha of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and the University of Toronto told NPR.

"The steep increase in risk among female smokers has continued for decades after the serious health risks from smoking were well established, and despite the fact that women predominantly smoked cigarette brands marketed as lower in 'tar' and nicotine," said co-researcher and former vice president emeritus of the American Cancer Society (ACS) Dr. Michael Thun in a recent statement.

"So not only did the use of cigarette brands marketed as 'Light' and 'Mild' fail to prevent a large increase in risk in women, it also may have exacerbated the increase in deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease in male smokers, since the diluted smoke from these cigarettes is inhaled more deeply into the lungs of smokers to maintain the accustomed absorption of nicotine,” he added.

The study, which appears in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on adults who participated in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey during the years 1997 to 2004 and revealed several new details about the effects of smoking on both men and women.

One of the more promising findings of the study said that smokers who quit by the time they reach 40 can expect to live about as long as those who never started.

“Quitting smoking before age 40, and preferably well before 40, gives back almost all of the decade of lost life from continued smoking,” Jha said in a separate statement.

The research revealed several other notable findings for those survey respondents who reported currently smoking, including that they had less than average education, were less likely to be overweight, and drank more alcohol. According to the researchers, women in their study were less likely than men to quit smoking.

In a statement from the hospital, Jha advised officials around the world to levy high taxes on tobacco products, similar to those seen in Canada and France. He said taxation is the most effective method to get adults to quit smoking and to prevent children from starting.

The U.S. government has taken the step of requiring health insurers to begin covering smoking cessation programs as a part of the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare.