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Quitting Smoking Cuts Heart Disease Risk for Older Women

Update Date: Jul 03, 2013 02:30 PM EDT

It really is never too late to quit smoking. A new study reveals that older women who quit smoking reduce their risk of heart disease, regardless of whether they had diabetes.

Lead researcher Juhua Luo, an epidemiologist at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, found that women who gained more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) after they quit smoking still saw a significant drop in their cardiovascular disease risk. However, women who gained less than 11 pounds saw a greater drop in their heart disease risk than women who gained more than 11 pounds.

"Our study found that if you quit smoking, even for older women, the benefits start pretty quickly, within years," Luo, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, said in a news release. "It's never too late to benefit from quitting smoking."

The latest study included data from 104,391 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 who participated in the National Institutes of Health-funded Women's Health Initiative.

The findings revealed that women without diabetes who quit smoking within the past three years had a 26 percent lower risk of developing heart disease compared with women who continued smoking. Researchers found that women who had quit smoking for more than three years had a 61 percent lower risk. Women with diabetes who quit smoking had about a 60 percent lower risk for heart disease, regardless of how recently they had quit.

The findings also found that the majority of women gained less than 11 pounds and those who gained more than 11 pounds had less heart-health benefit from stopping smoking, particularly if they had diabetes.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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