What would you do with an extra 10 years of life? Risk it in the sky? Enjoy it on the ocean waves? Spend it on treasure island? The question is real, because women who give up smoking before the age of 40 could live for an extra 10 years.
A study, recently published in the Lancet Review concludes that the risks of smoking are the same for both men and women. But in the past more men smoked than women. It is only since WWII that women have taken up smoking in the same numbers as men – so it’s only now that scientists can prove what everyone already believed. Smoking substantially shortens life expectancy for both men and women.
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Researcher, said: “If women smoke like men they’ll die like men, but if we can encourage women to stop all smokers to stop that will decrease the harm that smoking causes society. And if we can prevent people from starting that’s even better.”
Figures from the study show that giving up before the age of 40 reduced the increased risk of dying early by 90%. Stopping before the age 30 increased that to 97%.
The authors say that smoking under the age of 40 is still dangerous, but gets even more dangerous after the age of 40. What is being faced now in the UK is a legacy from the 1960s when more than 40% of women smoked and a cigarette was almost considered as a fashion accessory.
The Million Women Study was carried out between 1996 and 2001 and involved 1.3 million women who were recruited when they went for breast cancer screening. The study found that smokers over the age of 40 were three times more likely die from lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease or a stroke.