If you're old enough to use tobacco products you most likely know that cigarette smoking is detrimental to your health, but the relationship between greater mortality and cigarette smoking has never been clearer and the message to all smokers to quit smoking has never been louder until the publishing of updated and new scientific research data in first quarter of 2013.
The information was published in the January 24, 2013 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, a prestigious medical journal read and cited by many respected physicians and medical academic institutions throughout the United States. The scientific data within the published article was based on a study of 216,917 adults throughout the United States from 1997 through 2004. The study participants filled out a survey known as the US National Health Interview Survey and the results of the survey were matched with The National Death Index and the death certificates of the 13,700 participants who died during the study.
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The participants in the study were classified as either smokers, former smokers or never smoked. Participants were categorized as former smokers if they smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their adult life but had quit smoking for at least five years up until the time of death if death occurred. The participants were categorized as having never smoked if they smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their adult life.
Following statistical analysis of the 13,700 deaths which occurred during the study with adjustments for other factors which influence death such as alcohol consumption, obesity, and ethnicity, the results showed conclusively that the death rate of the participants who smoked was triple that of the participants who did not smoke and that those who never smoked were approximately twice as likely to live to the age of 80 compared to the smokers.
The study also showed that the males between the ages of 25 and 79 lost an average of 12 years of life and that the female participants lost an average of 11 years of life compared to the participants who had never smoked. Based on statistical calculations the estimated likelihood of surviving to the age of 80 years was 38% among the women participants in the study who smoked compared to 70% for the women who had never smoked. The statistics for the male participants were 26% and 61% respectively.
Although previous studies including a British study between 1900 and 1930, a large UK study between 1930 and 1950, a Japanese study between 1920 and 1945 and a meta-analysis of several prior US studies have shown a similar tripling of the relative death rate of smokers compared to non-smokers and the loss of approximately 10 years of life on the average for smokers, this study is the first to show as large an absolute death rate for smokers, which is the difference in the percent chance of survival to age 80 for smokers compared to individuals who had never smoked.
As bleak as the statistics regarding smoking and premature death are, the study provides some positive insight with respect to the benefits of quitting smoking. It showed that smokers who quit between the ages of 25 and 34 years lived almost as long as the participants who had never smoked, thus meaning they gained approximately 10 years of life. Individuals who quit between the ages of 35 and 44 years still had shortened life spans compared to the individuals who never smoked, but gained approximately 8 years of life on the average. Participants who quit smoking between the ages of 35 and 54 gained approximately 6 years of life and those who quit between the ages of 55 and 64 gained approximately 4 years of life.
The absolute death rate in this study was the difference in living until the age of 80 between smokers and non-smokers. It was calculated by subtracting the percent chance of living to the age of 80 for smokers from the percent chance of living to the age of 80 for non-smokers and found to be in excess of 30 percent for both males and females. Since the absolute death rate among non-smokers has been decreasing over the years and the death rate among smokers is increasing the absolute differences in survival to the age of 80 (the absolute death rate) between the two groups has widened and is in excess of 30% for men and women based on the findings of this study.
In spite of the sobering reality of the link between smoking and shortening of life span which this study proved, hopefully the optimistic conclusions with respect to the benefits of quitting smoking will eventually outweigh the negative aspects of the data and will result in a global awakening and decision by many to quit smoking.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. If you are seeking legal advice or are unsure about your medical condition you should consult an attorney and/or physician.