Will Smoking Cessation Reduce Mortality At An Older Age?

A report in the June 11 issue of the  Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that smoking is linked to increased mortality in older patients and smoking cessation is associated with reduced mortality in this population. Researchers said “We provide a thorough review and mega-analysis of studies assessing the impact of smoking on all-cause mortality in people 60 years and older, paying particular attention to the strength of the association by age, the impact of smoking cessation at older age, and factors that might specifically affect results of epidemiological studies on the impact of smoking in an older population.”

Seventeen studies from seven countries were selected that were published between 1987 and 2011. Follow up time in the studies ranged from 3 to 50 years and the size of study populations ranged from 863 to 877,243.  The researchers found an 83% increased relative mortality for current smokers and a 34% increased relative mortality for former smokers compared to those who never smoked. The authors said “In this review and mega-analysis on the association of smoking and an all-cause mortality at older age, current and former smokers showed an approximately 2-fold and 1.3 -fold risk for mortality, respectively.” “This review and mega-analysis demonstrates that the relative risk for death notably decreases with time since smoking cessation even in older age.”

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