Study reveals the best age to quit smoking to reduce early death risk

Smoking cigarettes is a habit that is harmful to health. Despite its dangers, it still remains a popular activity.

Hence, researchers are constantly working to understand the full health impact of smoking.

A​ recent study published in JAMA found that quitting smoking is associated with reduced mortality risk. The sooner people stop, the more benefit they are likely to see, the researchers found.

Smokers who quit cigarettes at age 35 have similar death rates over a given period of time to those who have never smoked. Those who quit smoking later still had substantial benefits, the research found, but the death rate was higher than those who quit before age 35.

For example, ex-smokers who quit between the ages of 35 and 44 had a 21% higher rate of death from any cause compared to those who had never smoked. And those who quit between the ages of 45 and 54 showed a 47% higher all-cause mortality rate than those who never smoked.

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“Among men and women of various racial and ethnic groups, current smoking was associated with at least twice the mortality rate,” the study authors wrote in a new report published in the journal JAMA, cited by sciencealert.com.

“Smoking cessation, particularly at younger ages, has been associated with substantial reductions in excess mortality relative to continued smoking.”

This is the third large study to suggest that age 35 may be the optimal age to quit, especially for young smokers, John P. Pierce, professor emeritus at Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego.

“It has long been known that the earlier a smoker quits, the better,” wrote Pierce, who was not involved in the new research. “However, it is now possible to be more specific about the age at which a smoker quits.”

The new study used data from the US National Health Interview Survey, a questionnaire-based survey used to monitor the health status of the US population, and the National Death Index, a database of death records.

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The analysis included survey data from more than 550,000 adults who completed questionnaires between January 1997 and December 2018 and were aged 25 to 84 at the time of recruitment.

These include current smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers, meaning people who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

According to the National Death Index, nearly 75,000 of these study subjects had died by the end of 2019. Compared to those who had never smoked, current smokers showed a significantly higher rate of death from all causes in general, such as and higher rates of death from cancer, heart disease, and lung disease, in particular.

White non-Hispanic smokers had the highest all-cause mortality rate, which was three times that of never smokers.

Black smokers, including both Hispanics and non-Hispanics, had slightly lower death rates, about twice that of non-smokers.

This may be related to the fact that these participants reported smoking fewer cigarettes per day on average; starting to smoke at older ages; and being less likely to smoke daily compared to white subjects.

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