by Cindy Zintle

Health up in smoke

Female smokers are at an increased risk of cancer

Women should quit smoking before age 40 to reduce their risk of cancer
Risk of lung cancer

Studies reveal that the risk of women suffering from lung cancer and other ailments is the highest it has been in recent decades, as a result of their tobacco use.

The research found a marked increase in deaths among female smokers from lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease and other health ailments.

The study of more than 2.2 million adults 55 years and older found that women who smoked in the 1960s had a 2.7 times higher risk of lung cancer than those who have never smoked.

"But among present-day female smokers, that risk is 25.7 times higher when compared to non-smokers,” the report said.

The researchers found that the increased risk from smoking has been significant enough to outweigh the effects of medical advances that have lengthened the lives of the rest of the population over the past half-century. The study was led by Michael Thun, a physician who recently retired as vice president emeritus of the American Cancer Society.

What the study found

The steep increase in risk among female smokers has continued for decades after the serious health risks from smoking were well-established. That study found that smokers lose an average of about 10 years over their lifetime, compared to people who have never smoked.

“The epidemic of disease and death caused by cigarette smoking increases progressively over many decades, peaking 50 or more years after the widespread uptake of smoking in adolescence.”

On a more positive note, Thun’s research confirmed that quitting smoking at any age dramatically lowers mortality from all major smoking-related diseases.

He further found that quitting smoking is far more effective than simply reducing the number of cigarettes smoked. Smokers who kicked the habit by age 40 avoided nearly all of the excess smoking-related mortality, the researchers found.

“The good news is the benefits of smoking cessation occur much more quickly than damages from tobacco use, and are substantial at any age,” Thun said.

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