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March 28, 2013

2013 Research Report Shows Longer Life is Reason to Quit Smoking

By: Victor E. Battles, M.D.

According to clinical research findings reported in the medical literature in the first quarter of 2013 there is indisputable evidence that people who smoke cigarettes have shorter life spans than people who never smoked and people who formally smoked but quit smoking. 


The findings were published in the January 24, 2013 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine which is a most respected publication read and oftentimes quoted by many physicians in the community and academic world. The article was based on a study of 216,917 adults throughout the United States from 1997 through 2004. Participants in this study filled out a survey known as the US National Health Interview Survey and the results of the survey were matched with The National Death Index and death certificates of the 13,700 participants who died during the study.  


Participants in the study were classified as either smokers, former smokers or never smoked. Participants were categorized as former smokers if they smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their adult life but had quit smoking for at least five years up until the time of death if death occurred. Participants were classified as having never smoked if they smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their adult life.  


following statistical analysis of the 13,700 participants who died during the study with adjustments for factors which can influence death rate such as alcohol consumption, obesity and ethnicity the results showed that study participants who had never smoked were approximately twice as likely to live to the age of 80 than the participants in the study who smoked. The study also showed that of male participants between the ages of 25 and 79 on the average lost 12 years of life and that the female participants on the average lost 11 years of life compared to the participants in the study who had never smoked.  


Based on statistical calculations the study also showed that the estimated likelihood of surviving to the age of 80 years was 38% among the women participants in the study who smoked and 70% for the women participants who had never smoked. The matching statistics for the men in the study were 26% and 61% respectively. Overall, the study showed that participants who smoked die at a rate triple that of the individuals in the study who had never smoked. 


Although previous studies including a British study between 1900 and 1930, a large UK study between 1930 and 1950, a Japanese study between 1920 and 1945 and several prior US studies have shown a similar tripling of the rate at which smokers die compared to non-smokers and those studies have also showed the loss of approximately 10 years of life on the average for smokers compared to non-smokers, this study is the first to show as large an absolute death rate for smokers.  The absolute death rate is the difference in the percent chance of survival to age 80 for smokers compared to non-smokers, which if calculated by subtracting 26 from 61 and 38 from 17 based on the percentages referred to in the previous paragraph,  exceeds 30% for both males and females.  


As gloomy as the statistics regarding smoking and dying are, the study provided some reason for optimism because of what it showed with regard to the benefits of quitting smoking. It showed that smokers who quit between the ages of 25 and 34 years lived almost as long as the participants who had never smoked, meaning they gained approximately 10 years of life. Individuals who quit between the ages of 35 and 44 years still lived for shorter periods of time compared to the individuals who never smoked, but gained approximately 8 years of life on the average. Participants who quit smoking between the ages of 35 and 54 gained approximately 6 years of life and those who quit between the ages 55 and 64 gained approximately 4 years of life.  


Despite the sobering reality that cigarette smoking shortens lives, hopefully the silver lining with respect to the benefits of smoking cessation means the glass is half full, not half empty and that there is hope that a lot of unnecessary premature deaths can be avoided in the future by global recognition and acting on the need to quit smoking.   


  This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. If you are seeking legal advice or are unsure about your medical condition you should consult an attorney and/or physician.

Source: Proactive Health Outlet

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact including treatment and evaluation of diseases related to smoking. He is also the founder of Proactive Health Outlet, a resource providing self-help for improving health.

Check out resources to help quit smoking.



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