Whether you are a smoker or non-smoker you most likely are aware of some of the health hazards associated with cigarette smoking, but the relationship between greater mortality and cigarette smoking has never been more compelling and the message to all smokers to quit smoking has never been louder until the publication of newly revealed scientific research data in January 2013.
The information was published in the January 24, 2013 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, an authoritative medical journal read by many physicians throughout the United States. Scientific data within the published article was based on a study of 216,917 adult participants throughout United States from 1997 through 2004. The participants of the study filled out the US National Health Interview Survey and the results of the survey were matched with The National Death Index and death certificates of the 13,700 participants who died before the study ended.
Participants in the study were categorized 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 . The participants were categorized as having never smoked if they smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their adult life.
After statistical analysis of the 13,700 deaths which occurred during the study and adjustments were made for other factors which influence death such as alcohol consumption, obesity, and ethnicity, the results showed conclusively that participants who smoked died at a rate triple that of the ones that 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 male participants between the ages of 25 and 79 lost an average of 12 years of life and that 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 participants 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 similarly shown a tripling of the relative death rate of smokers compared to non-smokers and the loss of approximately 10 years of life on the average among smokers, this study is the first to show such a large absolute death rate for smokers, which is the difference in the percent chance of survival to age 80 between smokers and non-smokers.
As bleak as the statistics regarding smoking and premature death are, the study provides some positive insight with respect to the benefits of smoking cessation. It showed that smokers who quit between the ages of 25 and 34 years lived almost as long as the participants who 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 and those who quit between the ages of 55 and 64 gained approximately 6 and 4 years of life respectively.
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 now exceeds 30% for both sexes based on the findings of this study.
Despite the depressing 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 means the glass is half full, not half empty 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.