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Study Links Smoking in Teens and Young Adults With Risk of Death Before 55

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The risk of dying before age 55 is increased in teens and young adults who smoke, are obese and have high blood sugar levels, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from 9,245 people ages 12 to 39. More than 30 percent were smokers, and more than 15 percent were obese; 298 died before reaching age 55.

Those who had smoked between the ages of 12 and 39 were 86 percent more likely to die before 55, compared with nonsmokers. Being obese as a teen or young adult increased the risk of dying before age 55 by 39 percent, while having high blood sugar early in life tripled the risk of dying young.

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

“There is a need for more effective strategies to try and prevent obesity and smoking, and improve the overall health of the younger population,” lead researcher Sharon Saydah, a CDC senior scientist, told HealthDay. “Any time somebody dies before age 55, it has an overall societal impact.”

A government report released in November found current cigarette smoking among teenagers declined significantly between 2002 and 2010 in 41 states. Nationwide, teen cigarette use fell from 12.6 percent to 8.7 percent.

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