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It's Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

Quitting in your 50s may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by more than 40%.

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By Valerie Tejeda

02/25/13

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Smoking doubles your risk for heart disease and stroke. But quitting, even in your 50s, or beyond, can significantly reduce this risk, new research suggests. A German study followed 9,000 German participants between the ages of 50 and 74 over the course of ten years. The results suggest that older people who stopped smoking were able to reverse much of the damage to their bodies. Even lifelong smokers experienced a staggering 40% reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke, within just five years after quitting. Lead researcher Professor Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Centre says quitters at this age are able to reach nearly the same low rate for heart attack and stroke risk as people of the same age who have never smoked in their lives. He adds: “we also found that smokers are affected [by heart disease] at a significantly younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped smoking.” The researchers urge smoking cessation programs to target people of all ages and not just young adults. But quitting sooner is still better: a study published earlier this year demonstrated that those who kick cigarettes by age 44 can live almost as long as those who have never smoked.

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