(NEW YORK) — Stop smoking now. That’s the take-away from a new study of over a million women conducted over a five-year period. The study finds that those who give up smoking can extend their life by ten years.
Epidemiologist Rachel Huxley, an Associate Professor at the School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota, says the women studied were between ages 50 & 65. The study is significant because while it was known that smoking had an impact on men’s health, women started smoking later than men and extensive studies had not been available.
“For the first time we have been able to fully evaluate the full impact of smoking when we haven’t been able to do this previously because women simply hadn’t been smoking long enough,” Huxley says.
For the study, the women were required to complete a questionnaire about lifestyle, medical and social factors and were surveyed again in three years. When any participant died, the researchers were notified and given the participant’s cause of death.
Twenty percent of the study’s participants were smokers, 28 percent were ex-smokers, and 52 had not smoke. At the three-year survey, those who were still smokers were three times as likely as non-smokers to to over the next nine years, even though some had stopped smoking for a time during this period.
“If women smoke like men, they die like men – but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra ten years of life,” says study co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The study, which is the largest to date examining the hazards of smoking and the benefits associated with quitting smoking among women, will appear online first in the medical journal The Lancet on Saturday.
“Everybody can benefit, every smoker, irrespective of age can benefit from quitting smoking,” Huxley says, adding, “The sooner individuals stop smoking the better.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN