Women who give up smoking extend lives by 10 years
The researchers found that women who smoked cigarettes throughout their adult years had three times a greater risk of dying compared with nonsmokers and women who quit well before middle age.
They were much more likely to die of smoking-related causes like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Even light smokers who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day had two times the mortality rate of nonsmokers.
More encouraging, however, was the positive effect that quitting seemed to have on the women's life span.
Those who quit smoking before they reached 40 avoided more than 90% of the increased risk of premature death from cigarettes, while women who stopped even earlier -- before age 30 -- avoided 97% of the added risk.
And it's never too late, the authors write, to stub out those cigarettes. "Even cessation at about 50 years of age avoids at least two-thirds of the continuing smoker's excess mortality in later middle age," they write. The hazards of smoking on health and mortality for women who continued to smoke past 40, for example, were 10 times greater than among women who quit before age 40