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New study: Smokers die a decade sooner

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New research shows that smokers can expect to die almost a decade earlier than non-smokers if they aren't able to quit early in life. A new study from the American Cancer Society analyzed mortality rates among more than 2 million smokers for the past 50 years.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, with the American Cancer Society, said, “The rates of deaths for both lung cancer and chronic lung disease and in fact, from all causes have increased substantially in female smokers.”

The research found both male and female smokers can expect to die a full decade earlier than their friends who have never smoked.

Studies done in the 60’s did not indicate such a massive impact on women.

Dr. Tim McAfee, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “It looked like the effects on women weren't as bad as in men, and that was probably because women were just starting to smoke in large numbers and they didn't smoke as heavily.”

Experts also blame light cigarettes for the jump, saying it may have caused smokers to inhale more deeply to get their nicotine fix.

Dr. Lichtenfeld said, “They’re getting more of that smoke into their lungs and that smoke has a bad effect.”

Researchers also had enough data on quit attempts and were able to locate some good news.

Dr. McAfee said, “If somebody quits before the age of 40, they gain a lot of that back. They gain almost a decade of life which is incredible.”

Compared to people who have not picked up a cigarette, male and female smokers had nearly identical risks for lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease and heart disease.