Women hooked on a daily routine of puffing cigarettes are three times more likely to die before their time, according to a new study.

According to a report released Oct. 27 by the University of Oxford, women who quit in their 30s can reverse the damage and add back the portion of their lifespan that went up in smoke. By dropping cigarettes, which contain substances such as formaldehyde, used to embalm dead bodies, and ammonia, a cleaning agent meant for toilets and restaurant floors, women can expect to prolong their lifespan by 10 years.

“Both in the UK and in the USA, women born around 1940 were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life,” Prof. Sir Richard Peto, a lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Hence, only in the 21st century could we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on premature mortality among women.’

The study followed 1.3 million women between the ages of 50 and 65 over a six-year period between 1996 and 2001. Surveys were completed that included information about each participants medical and social habits.

At the start of the study, 20 percent of the women were smokers, 28 percent were former smokers who quit, and 52 percent were women who never smoked cigarettes.

Results showed that even women who smoked one cigarette a day doubled their risk of dying prematurely when compared to non-smokers. Women who quit before 40 avoided 90 percent of the increased risk of early death. That percentage went up to 97 for women who quit at age 30.

According to information released by the Centers for Disease Control, smoking cigarettes leads to roughly 443,000 deaths each and every year. Approximately 20 percent, or 45.3 million people, of Americans smoke.

Statistics show that 20 percent of African-Americans smoke the cigarettes, which account for one out of every five deaths in America—all are 100 percent preventable. 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer