Aged 60? Even Now Quitting Smoking Helps to Cut Death Risk by 5 Years, Says Study

Are you aged 60 and contemplating not to quit smoking due to your advanced age? Even if you quit smoking at the age of 60, it will still help lower your associated ailments including the risk of heart attack or stroke by five years, said a new study by  German researchers.

Once a person quits smoking, the risk starts declining on an average of the risk for former smokers being 1.3 times than that of people who never smoked at all.

In their analysis of the impact of smoking on causing heart disease among older people, epidemiologist Ute Mons from the German Cancer Research Centre (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) studied 25 segments with data covering over half a million individuals aged 60 and above. Interestingly, he found that the more delay in quitting means more the rise in risk factor in a former smoker’s risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.

“Within the first five years after smoking one’s last cigarette, the risk already decreases measurably,” said Ute Mons.

Photo: Matton (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Photo: Matton (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Another factor is the number of cigarettes that a person has smoked in his or her lifetime. Once the person quits, this risk continues to decrease else it may increase.

As it is difficult to determine the relevance of relative risks, Mons and her colleagues examined another method to assess the results of their meta-analysis.

The method involved calculation of the number of years by which smoking increases the risk of death from heart disease and found that the age of smokers who die from cardiovascular disease is, on average, five-and-half years younger than people who have never smoked at all in their lives.

On the other hand, the age for former smokers drops to just over two years younger than life-long non-smokers.

“Therefore, it is never too late to stop smoking. Even people in the highest age group still gain considerable health benefits from it,” says Prof Hermann Brenner of the German research centre. “Many heart attacks and strokes, with all of their serious consequences, could be prevented this way.”

The study was undertaken by Ute Mons with the help of Aysel Müezzinler, Carolin Gellert, Ben Schöttker, Christian C. Abnet, Martin Bobak, Lisette de Groot, Neal D. Freedman, Eugène Jansen, Frank Kee, Daan Kromhout, Kari Kuulasmaa, Tiina Laatikainen, Mark G. O’Doherty, Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Philippos Orfanos, Annette Peters, Yvonne T. van der Schouw, Tom Wilsgaard, Alicja Wolk, Antonia Trichopoulou, Paolo Boffetta and Hermann Brenner, on behalf of the CHANCES consortium.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with 3,000 employees, is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany and more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer.

They focus on developing novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful and also provide online information called the Cancer Information Service (KID) that offers info about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public.

Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic.

DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with 90% of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining 10% from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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