Smokers who quit while still young can live almost as long as people who never smoked, new Canadian research has found.
While it’s estimated that smoking cuts at least 10 years off a person’s lifespan, new analysis from researchers at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital finds that people who quit smoking before the age of 40 regain almost all of those potentially lost years.
“The most important message is that quitting works,” lead researcher Dr. Prabhat Jha told CTV News. “Cessation of smoking at an early age — even up to age 40 — avoids about 90 per cent of the risk of continuing to smoke.
“And the risk is big. Smokers are looking at a decade of life lost, a decade of good life lost.”
Jha — head of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s — led a team who examined health records from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey. They also looked at data from the National Death Index, narrowing in on 16,000 people who had died but who had reported smoking earlier in life.
They found that people who never smoked were about twice as likely to live to age 80 than those who did.
But they also found that people who quit smoking between 35 and 44 years of age gained about nine years life back. Those who quit between ages 45-54 and 55-64 gained six and four years of life, respectively.