The American Lung Association writes that smoking and tobacco use pose a serious risk of death and disease for women. It is estimated that annually cigarette smoking kills an estimated 173,940 women in the United States. Although there are fewer women who smoke than men, the percentage difference between the two has been decreasing. Due to the lessening gap between men’s and women’s smoking rates, women share a much larger burden of smoking-related diseases.
John Gever has reported for MedPage Today on Oct. 26, 2012: “Women Who Quit Smoking Do Live Longer.” In Great Britain’s Million Women Study it was found that life expectancy was dramatically improved among participants who quit smoking in comparison with continuous smokers. The researchers say this has confirmed the previously uncertain benefits of smoking cessation in women. This study has been published in The Lancet.
Kirstin Pirie, MSc, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues, have said although women who stopped smoking around age 50 remained at significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality in comparison with never-smokers, it was much lower than the tripled risk of death which is seen in current smokers. The researchers wrote: “Even cessation at about 50 years of age avoids at least two-thirds of the continuing smoker’s excess mortality in later middle age.” And, deaths from lung cancer were reduced markedly in quitters as well, regardless of the participants’ age when they stopped smoking. Although much has been known about smoking-related diseases, and the earlier smokers stop the better, it appears smoking-related deaths have been previously underestimated in women.
The researchers found that 12-year mortality rates among those reporting current smoking at a 3-year follow-up were roughly triple those of never-smokers, largely irrespective of age. Participants in the study who stopped smoking by their mid-30s had a risk of all-cause mortality which was hardly different from that of never-smokers. Smokers quitting at 35 to 44 were at 20% greater risk of death than never-smokers, and those quitting at 45 to 54 were found to be at 56% increased risk. Overall the study shows that smokers lose at least 10 years of lifespan. And, although the hazards of smoking until age 40 years and then stopping are substantial, the hazards of continuing to smoke are ten times greater.