Quitting smoking is beneficial, even for smokers ages 60 and older, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed 17 studies, and found that smokers ages 60 and older were 83 percent more likely to die at any given age, compared with people who never smoked. The increased risk was reduced to 34 percent for former smokers.
Quitting smoking was found to be life-extending even in people ages 80 and older, Reuters reports.
“This fact calls for effective smoking cessation programs that are likely to have major preventive effects even for smokers aged 60 years and older,” the researchers wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
One in two elderly smokers will die from tobacco-related causes, Dr. Tai Hing Lam of the University of Hong Kong notes in an editorial accompanying the study. “Most smokers grossly underestimate their own risks,” he said. “Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting.”
“If you have helped two smokers quit, you have saved (at least) one life,” Dr. Lam concludes.