“Even older people who smoked for a lifetime without negative health consequences should be encouraged and supported to quit smoking,” said Dr Hermann Brenner, who headed the study.
The report by researchers from the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, summarised the findings of 17 earlier studies, and is the first to look smoking in seniors.
The review found that smokers 60 years and older were 83 percent more likely to die at any given age compared to never-smokers.
In a commentary accompanying the German analysis, Dr Tai Hing Lam of the University of Hong Kong said the findings show one in two elderly smokers will be killed by tobacco.
“Most smokers grossly underestimate their own risks,” he wrote. “Many older smokers misbelieve that they are too old to quit or too old to benefit from quitting.”
An earlier British study that followed doctors for 50 years, found that 59 percent of non-smokers were alive at age 80 compared to 26 percent of smokers, and those who quit before age 40, had nearly the same death rates as those who never smoked.
Source: Reuters Health