Study Shows Greater Efforts Needed to Convince Older
People to Stop Smoking, Live Longer
Researchers find positive, life-saving results
occur faster than assumed for seniors who quit smoking
Feb. 20, 2013 – German researchers are urging more
emphasis on encouraging older people to stop smoking, after learning in a
study of people age 50 to 74 that the positive results from smoking cessation
occur in just a few months.
Professor Hermann Brenner and colleagues analyzed
the data of 8.807 individuals aged between 50 and 74 years using data
from the ESTHER Study, whose participants are from Saarland, a state of
They included individuals who had not suffered a
heart attack or stroke prior to study start and whose health status had
been surveyed for up to ten years afterwards. In their evaluation, the
scientists also took account of the effects of other factors such as
age, gender, alcohol consumption, education and physical exercise as
well as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, body height and
"We were able to show that the risk of smokers for
cardiovascular diseases is more than twice that of non-smokers. However,
former smokers are affected at almost the same low rate as people of the
same age who never smoked," says Brenner.
"Moreover, smokers are affected at a significantly
younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped
"For example, a 60-year-old smoker has the same
risk of myocardial infarction as a 79-year-old non-smoker and the same
risk of stroke as a 69-year-old non-smoker. Dose and duration of tobacco
consumption also have an impact on disease risk. The more cigarettes a
smoker consumes per day over a prolonged period of time, the higher his
or her risk increases.
The study shows that the positive effect of smoking
cessation becomes noticeable within a short period of time.
"Compared to individuals who continue smoking, the
risk of myocardial infarction and stroke is reduced by more than 40
percent already within the first five years after the last cigarette,"
says Carolin Gellert, first author of the study.
The results suggest that smoking cessation
programs, which have concentrated on younger participants up to now,
should be expanded to reach out to older people as well.
Carolin Gellert, Ben Schöttker, Heiko Müller, Bernd
Holleczek, Hermann Brenner: Impact of smoking and quitting on
cardiovascular outcomes and risk advancement periods among older adults.
Eur J Epidemiol. 2013. doi: 10.1007/s10654-013-9776-0.
The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches
Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is the largest biomedical research
institute in Germany.
Links to More Reports on Senior Citizens and Smoking