It's never too late for smoking cessation

The citizens of Saarland, Germany have temporarily cleared the air regarding the hearts of smokers — according to a recent study conducted by professor Hermann Brenner and other colleagues from the German Cancer Research Center, a smoker is more than twice as likely to develop a cardiovascular disease in later life than a non-smoker. And the cinders don’t end there.

"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," said Brenner in a news release. "Moreover, smokers are affected at a significantly younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped smoking."

Thus, in essence, a 60-year-old smoker’s chances of suffering myocardial infarction is akin to the likelihood of a 79-year-old non-smoker weathering the same affliction; by the same determination, a smoker’s chances of suffering from a stroke would be on par with those of a 69-year-old non-smoker. What’s more, Brenner’s team discovered, the amount of tobacco consumed in a day can raise an individual's risk even higher.

Following examination of the smoking habits and health records of/for 8,807 Saarland people between the ages of 50 and 74, researchers were also able to conclude, rather positively, on the effectiveness of smoking cessation.

"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," said Carolin Gellert, the study’s first author.

Such results suggest that health providers and leaders of cessation programs worldwide more fervently promote services to older individuals alongside younger participants.

The latest study, titled “Impact of smoking and quitting on cardiovascular outcomes and risk advancement periods among older adults,” supplements a previous investigation conducted last year by Brenner and company regarding the impact of smoking on the overall mortality of people over 60 years of age. The German Cancer Research Center characterized the previous study in conjunction with the current report as follows: “They [the scientists] had used data from international studies without German participation. In their latest study, they have evaluated data from the so-called ESTHER Study whose participants are from Saarland, a state of Germany. They included those 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 weight.”

Find more information about the study here.

Image courtesy of Reinald Kirchner via Creative Commons licensing.