Much of the increased risk of death from smoking reduced within several years after quitting

May 6, 2008

Women who quit smoking significantly reduce their risk of death from coronary heart disease within 5 years and have about a 20 percent lower risk of death from smoking-related cancers within that time period, according to a study in the May 7 issue of JAMA.

“Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Globally, approximately 5 million premature deaths were attributable to smoking in 2000. The World Health Organization projects by 2030 that tobacco-attributable deaths will annually account for 3 million deaths in industrialized countries and 7 million in developing countries,” the authors write. They add that the rate of mortality risk reduction after quitting compared with continuing to smoke is uncertain.

Stacey A. Kenfield, Sc.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues assessed the relationship between cigarette smoking and smoking cessation on total and cause-specific mortality in women by analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study, an observational study of 104,519 female participants, with follow-up from 1980 to 2004. A total of 12,483 deaths occurred in this group, 4,485 (35.9 percent) among never smokers, 3,602 (28.9 percent) among current smokers, and 4,396 (35.2 percent) among past smokers.

The researchers found a significant 13 percent reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality within the first 5 years of quitting smoking compared with continuing to smoke, and the excess risk decreased to the level of a never smoker 20 years after quitting, with some causes taking more or less time. “Significant trends were observed with increasing years since quitting for all major cause-specific outcomes. A more rapid decline in risk after quitting smoking compared with continuing to smoke was observed in the first 5 years for vascular diseases compared with other causes.”

“Much of the reduction in the excess risk for these causes of death were realized within the first 5 years for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Sixty-one percent of the full potential benefit of quitting in regard to coronary heart disease mortality and 42 percent of the full potential benefit of quitting in regard to cerebrovascular mortality was realized within the first 5 years of quitting smoking, when comparing hazard ratios for recent quitters of less than 5 years with long-term quitters of 20 years or greater. For death due to respiratory disease, an 18 percent reduction in risk of death was observed 5 to 10 years after quitting smoking, with the risk reaching that of a never smoker’s risk after 20 years.”

For lung cancer mortality, a significant 21 percent reduction in risk was observed within the first 5 years compared with continuing smokers, but the excess risk did not disappear for 30 years. Past smokers with 20 to less than 30 years of cessation had an 87 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer mortality compared with current smokers. When including the other smoking-related cancers, the excess risk approached a never smoker’s risk more than 20 years after quitting smoking.

Significant trends were observed for earlier age at initiation of smoking for total mortality, respiratory disease mortality, and all smoking-related cancer mortality. The data also suggested that smoking is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer mortality but not ovarian cancer mortality. The researchers also found that approximately 64 percent of deaths among current smokers and 28 percent of deaths among former smokers were attributable to cigarette smoking.

“Early age at initiation is associated with an increased mortality risk so implementing and maintaining school tobacco prevention programs, in addition to enforcing youth access laws, are key preventive strategies. Effectively communicating risks to smokers and helping them quit successfully should be an integral part of public health programs,” the authors conclude.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Former elite athletes live longer than their brothers

Related Stories

Former elite athletes live longer than their brothers

January 17, 2018
On average, former elite athletes survive longer than their brothers. In addition, their self-rated health and health-related habits are better in comparison to their brothers at an older age. This was clarified by Master ...

Is obesity slowing gains in U.S. life spans?

January 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—The death rate in the United States isn't decreasing as it has in years past, and some experts blame the opioid epidemic. But a new study suggests America's increasing girth is what's really behind the slowdown.

Risk-based CT screening may reduce deaths from lung cancer

January 1, 2018
Compared to National Lung Screening Trial criteria, targeting screening those at highest risk from lung cancer mortality using a risk prediction tool may improve efficiency in terms of greater reduction in mortality from ...

Age is not a risk factor for complications after surgery among older patients

January 12, 2018
Among older patients, frailty and cognitive impairment before surgery are associated with developing complications after surgery, but age is not, a new study suggests.

Women at greater risk after heart attacks: study

January 8, 2018
Fewer women who suffer a heart attack each year in the UK would die if they were simply given the same treatments as men, according to new research.

Don't give up now—keeping your New Year's resolutions could reduce cancer risk

January 4, 2018
The New Year is an excellent time to make resolutions for a healthier lifestyle - but by the end of the first week of January, even the best intentions may start to pall.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.