Do you Smoke? There is an Optimal Age to Quit Smoking and Reverse the Harmful Effects of Smoking

According to a Recent Study, Quitting Smoking Before the Age of 35 Makes the Risk of Death Similar to that of a Non-smoker, Here we Tell you More About it.

woman smoking cigarette

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LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: ¿Fumas? Hay una edad optima para dejar el cigarrillo y revertir los efectos nocivos del tabaquismo

Smoking is one of the most harmful habits for human health. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), tobacco causes 8 million deaths each year. Tobacco consumption is related to numerous diseases and the development of various types of cancer, its consumption damages teeth, gums and can cause fertility problems and premature aging. Quitting smoking will always be positive for your body and the sooner the better.

However, a prospective cohort study conducted in the United States and published by the academic media JAMA Network Open, indicates that the ideal age to quit smoking is before 35 years of age. This means that, in the long term, the risk of death will be similar to that of a person who has never smoked. In the same way, deaths from cancer, cardiovascular or respiratory deaths are reduced.

The research carried out by the Medical Center of the North American University of Duke, used the data of the "National Survey of Health Interviews of the USA", collected between the period of 1997 and December 2018. In this, more than 550,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 84. In addition, data from the "National Death Index" was used to monitor the specific causes of death of the participants, until December 31, 2019.

In view of the findings, it is indicated that "Quitting smoking was associated with a reduction in excess mortality associated with continuing to smoke, with greater reductions among those who quit smoking at earlier ages." However, it is important to emphasize that this does not mean that a young person can smoke without any consequences, the damage occurs at all ages.

Also, it was shown that the benefits of not smoking were balanced between men and women of different ethnic or population groups, particularly among those who quit before the age of 45. That is, according to the results obtained, "quitting smoking before age 45 was associated with approximately 90% reductions in excess mortality associated with continuing smoking, and quitting between ages 45 and 64 was associated with reductions of approximately 66% of this excess risk.”

As the authors point out, the study has some limitations in terms of updating the data. Information on participants' smoking habits was collected at a point in time and it is possible that after the surveys some have stopped smoking or have started to do so. However, the researchers insist that in addition to the multiple benefits, quitting smoking does reduce the risk of premature death.

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Benefits of stop smoking

The benefits of abandoning this habit are reflected immediately. According to PAHO, after 20 minutes the heart rate decreases. At 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal. Between the second week and three months, circulation and lung function improve. Likewise, after 1 year without smoking, the risk of suffering a heart attack is reduced by half.

For women, in particular, smoking decreases the difficulty to get pregnant, premature births, low birth weight babies and abortions; generally improves fertility. On a physical level, the appearance of the skin looks healthier, whiter teeth, fresher breath and softer and shinier hair.

However, despite the fact that the benefits are quite significant for people's health, tobacco use continues to be one of the greatest threats to public health. Millions of people around the world are active and passive consumers.

Figures and control measures on smoking in America

In the Americas, the regional average for tobacco use is 11.3% in women and 21.3% in men, compared to the global proportion of 36.7% in men and 7.8% in women. According to the figures of PAHO's "Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas 2022", it is necessary to strengthen the gender approach in tobacco control policies and strategies.

The most recent PAHO report on the fight against smoking in the Americas indicates that tobacco causes almost one million deaths a year in the region and is the only legal product that kills up to half of those who use it. “In the face of this enormous threat, the response must be equally aggressive. The control measures work and we must move faster in the application of all of them,” said Dr. Anselm Hennis, director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at PAHO Washington.

These control measures, called “MPOWER”, and established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008, have contributed to a great reduction in tobacco users. Likewise, according to the PAHO report, the measures in 2021 have been applied in only 26 of the 35 countries of the American continent. In the case of South America, it is worth noting that, in 2020, it became the first subregion in which smoking is absolutely prohibited in closed public places, on public transport and at work.

Finally, experts warn about the new demand for products that may contain nicotine and its ease of access. For example, electronic cigarettes on which alerts and cases that compromise the health of their consumers have also been presented. PAHO/WHO recommends that governments implement provisions to prevent its use and prevent tobacco consumption from returning to normal in society and, above all, protect future generations.

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