A new study has indicated that older people at age 60 can lower the risk for heart attack and stroke within the first five years if they quit smoking. The study conducted at German Cancer Research Center analyzed 25 individual studies, compiling data from over half a million individuals age 60 and older.

According to the study, twice as many smokers die from cardiovascular disease than life-long non-smokers do. The increase in risk depends on the number of cigarettes that a person has smoked in his or her lifetime. After one quits smoking, this risk continues to decrease. On average, the risk for former smokers is only 1.3 times that of people who have never smoked in their lives.

Since people often find it difficult to determine the relevance of relative risks, Ute Mons and her colleagues also used an alternative method to assess the results of their meta-analysis where they calculated the number of years by which smoking accelerates death from heart disease and found that the age of smokers who die from cardiovascular disease is, on average, five and a half years younger than people who have never smoked in their lives.

Study head Prof. Hermann Brenner said that it was never too late to stop smoking and even people in the highest age group still gain considerable health benefits from it and many heart attacks and strokes, with all of their serious consequences, could be prevented this way.

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