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Quitting Smoking at any Age can Undo Damage: Study

Update Date: Jan 24, 2013 10:56 AM EST

People who quit smoking at a later age can also undo some of the damage done to the health, says a new study.

The study found that people can gain at least four to six years if they quit around ages 55-64. However, quitting before age 40 can undo most of the damage and prolong life by ten years.

The present study included nearly 200,000 men and women from the U.S. Researchers found that smokers were some three times more likely to die early than people who never smoked. These people were most likely to die from smoking related health complications like heart disease and cancer, reports The Los Angeles Times. Non smokers were twice more likely to live till their eightieth birthday when compared with smokers.

"Quitting smoking before age 40, and preferably well before 40, gives back almost all of the decade of lost life from continued smoking," said Dr. Prabhat Jha, from the University of Toronto, according to a news release.

Jha added that study results don't mean that it is safe to smoke till 40 years. Ex-smokers still carry a significant risk of various health complications when compared to people who have never smoked.

Some 45.3 million people, or 19.3% of all adults (aged 18 years or older), in the United States smoke cigarettes. Men are more likely to smoke than women. Smoking kills an estimated 443,000 people, or causes one of every five deaths in the U.S. each year, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cigarette smoking causes more than 80 percent deaths due to lung cancer. Smoking is linked with cancers of liver, bowel, pancreas, bladder and ovary as well. Smoking affects not just the smokers but also those around them. Secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, breathing problems, lung cancer, dementia and respiratory tract infections.

 "This study brings out how great the threat actually is, and shows that risks of death from smoking are even larger than previously thought.  The result is of great global significance," said Professor Amartya Sen, from Harvard University who won the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics, in a news release. Sen wasn't part of the current research.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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