Quit Smoking at Any Age to Live Longer

Medically Reviewed by Sheena Meredith, MD on April 24, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

April 24, 2015 -- It's never too late to stop smoking, experts say. They’ve found that even quitting after your 60th birthday can help add years to your life.

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center reviewed info from 25 different studies involving 503,905 people from Europe and the U.S. age 60 and over. Of these people, 37,952 died from heart disease.

The researchers found that smokers are twice as likely to die from heart disease as people who've never smoked. The risk of dying depended on the number of cigarettes smoked over a lifetime. But after a person kicks the habit, that risk begins to fall. On average, former smokers are just 1.37 times more likely to die from heart disease than those who've never smoked.

The good news for the over-60 crowd is that within the first 5 years of quitting, the risk of getting cardiovascular disease drops a lot. And the risk continues to fall as long as they stay smoke-free.

The researchers found that the age of smokers who die from heart disease is, on average, 5 and a half years younger than people who have never smoked. By contrast, the age for former smokers drops to just over 2 years younger than people who’ve never lit up.

"The evidence that smoking causes significant harm to your heart is overwhelming. This study further emphasizes just how important it is that we do everything in our power to quit,” says Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

"Giving up can potentially add years to your life and, as this research suggests, the benefits can be felt at any age so it’s never too late to kick the habit.”

Show Sources


Ute, M. BMJ, April 20, 2015.

German Cancer Research Center.

Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse, British Heart Foundation.

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