Smoking Compromises Quality-of-Life in Old Age
Article date: November 19, 2008
Smoking doesn't just shorten your lifespan, new research indicates. It makes the years you do have less enjoyable.
University of Helsinki researchers followed a group of 1658 men for 26 years, and found that those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day (heavy smokers) had far more difficulty later in life than non-smokers, even if they quit smoking during the study period. Never-smokers, meanwhile, lived 10 years longer and enjoyed a better quality-of-life in their later years than heavy smokers.
The men were all white and of the same socioeconomic status, born between 1919 and 1934, and of good health at the start of the study. The researchers, led by Arto Y. Strandberg, M.D., evaluated the men's physical and emotional health in 1974, and again 26 years later, in 2000.
The researchers saw the greatest difference in the physical functioning between those who had never smoked and heavy smokers. The heavy smokers had the physical functioning of men 10 years older when compared to the non-smokers. What's more, the nonsmokers lived about 10 years longer.
Only 30% of the smokers in 1974 were still smoking in 2000, and those men reported significantly lower scores on scales assessing physical functioning, energy/vitality, social functioning, and emotional well-being. Quality-of-life scores decreased with more cigarettes smoked per day.
The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Don't Start; If You Smoke, Quit
"It is not just that the heavy smoker loses 10 years of life expectancy but rather than at any given age, the functional capacities of the heavy smoker are equivalent to those of nonsmokers who are 10 years older. The clear message is that smoking makes you old before your time," wrote David M. Burns, M.D., in an accompanying editorial.
Cigarette smoking not only ages you and compromises your quality-of-life, it accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and is linked to heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke, in addition to other problems.
And, as this study shows, the negative effects of smoking linger long after you give up smoking. The best way to protect yourself is to never start in the first place. If you currently smoke, quit.
November is the perfect time to quit smoking. November 20th marks the American Cancer Society's 32nd annual Great American Smokeout, when smokers are encouraged to quit for at least 1 day. Looking for help quitting right now? We're here to help. Start with our Guide to Quitting Smoking.
Citation: "The Effect of Smoking in Midlife on Health-Related Quality of Life in Old Age: A 26-Year Prospective Study." Published October 14, 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. First author: Arto Y. Strandberg, M.D., University of Helsinki.
"Live Fast, Die Young, Leave a Good-Looking Corpse." Published October 14, 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Author: David M. Burns, MD.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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