The Smoke by lucaszoltowski
It’s Never Too Late to Quit
A recent analysis of medical literature by Carolin Gellert and her colleagues from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany has revealed that quitting smoking would help older patients live longer.
Smoking is a known risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, however, the epidemiological evidence mostly relies on studies conducted among middle-aged adults, according to the study background.
The German researchers conducted a thorough review and meta-analysis of 17 studies from several countries assessing the impact of smoking on all-cause mortality in people 60 years and older, paying particular attention to the strength of the association by age, the impact of smoking cessation at older age, and factors that might specifically affect results of epidemiological studies on the impact of smoking in an older population.
The studies from the U.S., China, Australia, Japan, England, Spain and France) were published between 1987 and 2011. The follow-up time of the studies ranged from 3 to 50 years and the size of the study populations ranged from 863 to 877,243 participants.
In summarizing the results from these studies, the authors note an 83 percent increased relative mortality for current smokers and a 34 percent increased relative mortality for former smokers compared with never smokers.
"In this review and meta-analysis on the association of smoking and all-cause mortality at older age, current and former smokers showed an approximately 2-fold and 1.3-fold risk for mortality, respectively," the authors note. "This review and meta-analysis demonstrates that the relative risk for death notably decreases with time since smoking cessation even at older age."
In a commentary, Tai Hing Lam, M.D., of the University of Hong Kong, writes: "Most smokers grossly underestimate their own risks. Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting."
"Because of reverse causality and from seeing deaths of old friends who had quit recently, some misbelieve that quitting could be harmful. A simple, direct, strong and evidence-based warning is needed," Lam continues.
"If you have helped two smokers quit, you have saved (at least) one life," the author concludes.
The above story is based on the June 11, 2012 news release by American Medical Association (AMA).
The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication: Carolin Gellert et al. Smoking and All-Cause Mortality in Older People: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med, June 11, 2012; 172:837-844 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.1397