For those in retirement age or approaching such a stage in their life and think “what’s the point of stopping smoking now?”, it is actually never too late to give up and enjoy a boost in health, cutting the chance of dying from smoking-related disease.
A study carried out by U.S. researchers found that smokers over the age of 70 are three times more likely to die compared to people who have never previously smoked. Interestingly, when they looked at people in this age group that had quit in the sixties, only 27.9% had died, compared to a third that had never quit.
The odds further dropped to 23.9% for people giving up in their fifties, and less than one in five died in those that had stopped smoking during their forties.
This surely demonstrates that there are still major health benefits seen in quitting smoking at any age, to lessen the risk of diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease. In total, smoking kills an estimated 96,000 people per year in Britain alone.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, states: “This finding is particularly remarkable given that participants who quit smoking in their 60s were as likely as current smokers to report poor/fair health, and were more likely than current smokers to have reported a diagnosis of hypertension, cancer, heart attack, or stroke.
“These results emphasise the benefit of smoking cessation on mortality even later in life, and provide further evidence that all smokers should be encouraged to quit regardless of their age.”
The findings come from an analysis of 160,000 people over the age of 70 who completed a U.S. health study on smoking in 2004 and 2005. Any subsequent deaths were monitored until 2011.
It was discovered that lung cancer deaths accounted for 6.6% of the group who hadn’t stopped smoking, but only 4.5% were from people who gave up in their sixties.
Those aged 60 to 69 and who had quit were found to be less likely to die from both stroke and heart disease. These are often caused by smoking due to good cholesterol being lowered and the blood more becoming more sticky and likely to clot.
Smoking is responsible for a quarter of deaths from cancer in Britain UK cancer deaths. However, in the study, percentage of deaths from cancer dropped from 2.1% in current smokers to 1.8% for those who had stopped smoking in their sixties.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of anti-smoking charity ASH, said: “This study underlines the extent of the harm caused by cigarette smoking which remains the number one preventable cause of premature death in the UK and many other countries.
“The good news is that quitting at any age is always worthwhile and adds years to life even amongst the elderly.”
Men were found to be the ones more like to begin smoking and also smoke higher amounts of cigarettes. The majority of those who died during the seventies from smoking-related causes had begun smoking during their teens.
Overall, nearly one in six people died during the study period, including 12.1% of those who had not smoked previously.
Lead author Dr Sarah Nash, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, said: “These data show that age at smoking initiation and cessation, both key components of smoking duration, are important predictors of mortality in US adults aged 70 years and older.”
The study adds: “Given that smoking cessation at later ages was associated with worse health and a higher likelihood of having a chronic disease, the benefits associated with smoking cessation at age 60–70 years are even more remarkable.”