This is according to a recent article published in The Lancet that looked at the effects of smoking in women born around 1940 in the UK, which is considered the first generation in which women smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life.
‘Only in the 21st century can we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on mortality among women in the UK,’ wrote the authors.
‘Although the hazards of smoking until age 40 years and then stopping are substantial, the hazards of continuing are ten times greater. Stopping before age 40 years (and preferably well before 40) avoids more than 90 percent of the excess mortality caused by continuing smoking; stopping before age 30 years avoids more than 97 percent of it,’ the researchers, led by Kirstin Pirie of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, wrote.
For the study, 1.3 million women recruited between 1996 and 2001 were asked about their smoking habits ‘ whether they were current or ex-smokers, how many cigarettes they smoked, etc. The women were followed up at three and eight years after the initial interview.
At baseline, 20 percent of women were current smokers, 28 percent were ex-smokers, and 52 percent were never smokers.
The researchers found that smokers lost at least 10 years of life due to smoking, and that two-thirds of deaths among smokers were caused by diseases like lung cancer, which is mainly caused by smoking.
Furthermore they found that while the hazards of smoking until age 40 are substantial for women, the hazards of continuing to smoke after 40 are 10 times greater.
Source: The Lancet