Are you one of many smokers who has spent countless hours staring at the end of a burning cigarette while trying to rationally answer just one question: Why do I smoke?
Common reasons are boredom, feeling anxious, nervous or lonely.
Some smokers say cigarettes help them clear their head, think well, or stay thin. Still others can’t imagine life worth living without smoking, or say food and drink-- or even sex-- would lose its appeal without lighting up.
If you are over age 50, you may want to quit but can’t seem to shake the idea, “I’ve been smoking all my adult life. It’s too late for me to quit now.”
But before you convince yourself the smoke-free ship has sailed for you, you should know there’s growing evidence that quitting after age 50 has some real tangible health benefits, regardless of your age.
Numerous studies have shown smoking robs a person of several years of disease-free life. Although researchers quibble over just how many years a smoker’s life is cut short from puffing, data does clearly show that each year about 440,000 smokers do die prematurely, according to the National Cancer Institute.
One reason for this is that smoking is associated with very serious health risks, including several cancer types — lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia—heart disease, stroke, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, hip fractures and cataracts.
Smokers are also at higher risk of developing pneumonia and other airway infections, and even erectile dysfunction in males.
Quitting smoking now, regardless of your age, could mean you are less likely to die from smoking-related illness than those who continue to smoke, according to recent research published in the British Medical Journal.
Need more evidence? A new study by the German Cancer Research Center looked at data from more than 8,800 people, ages 50-74, and found the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease is more than twice that of non-smokers.