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Study: Quit Smoking Before 40, Likely to Live As Long As Non-Smokers

Update Date: Jan 26, 2013 12:36 PM EST

A new study shows that people who quit smoking before age 40 could live just as long as people who've never had a cigarette in their life.

The study's findings, detailed in a report released earlier this week, suggest that by eliminating smoking from one's lifestyle before the age of 40 year old, smokers can regain years of life they would have lost.

In addition, this confirms that health damage from smoking may not be permanent.

"Quitting smoking before age 40, and preferably well before 40, gives back almost all of the decade of lost life from continued smoking," study researcher Dr. Prabhat Jha, a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and head of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael's Hospital, said in a statement.

"That's not to say, however, that it is safe to smoke until you are 40 and then stop," Jha said in the statement. "Former smokers still have a greater risk of dying sooner than people who never smoked. But the risk is small compared to the huge risk for those who continue to smoke."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 440,000 Americans still die each year from cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and about 8.6 million suffer from serious smoking-related illnesses.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included 122,810 women and 94,107 men who were all 25 or older, who participated in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey.

They study also showed that  people who stopped smoking between the ages of 35 and 44 lived about nine years longer than they would have if they didn't quit smoking. And people who quit smoking between the ages of 45 and 54 lived six years longer, and people who quit smoking between ages 55 and 64 lived four years longer, the researchers found.

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