Teen Smokers at Risk for Early Death
Written by Faith Anderson on October 4, 2012
Smoking Linked to Cancer and Heart Disease
Although previous studies have established a connection between early smoking and conditions like heart disease and cancer, past research was based on the memory of middle-aged people who smoked when they were younger. Batty and his colleagues took a more reliable approach, using data from an ongoing study of men who started college at Harvard University between 1916 and 1950, and reported their cigarette use on school health exams. They were also sent follow-up surveys related to smoking in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, in order to track whether they quit or continued smoking later in life.
Young Smokers at Risk for Early Death
This new study involved over 28,000 men, approximately 10,000 of whom reported smoking during their undergraduate studies, and almost half of the study participants died during an average follow-up of 53 years. According to the study findings, men who reported smoking on their college physical and on their follow-up questionnaires had a two-times increased risk of dying as those who never smoked. In comparison, Harvard alumni who smoked as teens but who quit had a 29% increased risk of early death. “For people who did quit smoking during the follow-up period, their risk of death dropped greatly,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control researcher from the Boston University School of Public Health. “It doesn’t quite go back to (non-smokers’ risk), but it is significantly less.”