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Quit before 40 or lose a decade

Tuesday October 30th 2012

Women who smoke could live for an extra decade if they throw away the cigarettes before their 40th birthday.

A scientific study which looked at 1.3 million women aged between 50 and 65 found smokers were three times more likely than non-smokers to die over a nine-year period, mainly because of illnesses caused by the habit, including lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease and stroke.

Even recreational smokers who got through less than 10 cigarettes a day were twice as likely to die than a non-smoker, although the danger increased with the amount of tobacco.

But the research showed there was hope for young smokers. People who gave up before their 30th birthday cut their risk of dying before old age by 97%.

The scientists behind the Million Women Study claimed smokers were likely to shorten their lives by a decade. And those who refused to quit were 10 times more likely to die prematurely than someone who smokes until they are 40 and then successfully gives up for good.

Oxford University's Professor Sir Richard Peto, one of the study's authors, said smokers of either gender would live for an extra 10 years if they were able to kick the habit before they reached middle age.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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