A healthy lifestyle can help ex-smokers reduce their risk of death from all causes

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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Ex-smokers who stick to a healthy lifestyle have a lower risk of dying from all causes than those who don’t engage in healthy habits, according to a new study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Health. A reduced risk of death has been observed for certain causes, including cancer and heart and lung diseases. Lifestyle interventions have not been robustly studied in ex-smokers, and these new findings may have important implications for the 52 million ex-smokers in the United States.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, defined as being physically active and doing things like eating healthy, was associated with a 27% reduction in the risk of death during the 19-year follow-up period, compared to not maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Findings revealed on September 22, 2022, JAMA Network OpenTaken from analysis of a large group of ex-smokers who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.

“I was surprised to see the strong associations. [with lifestyle]Maki Inoue-Choi, PhD, NCI’s Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, is lead author of the paper. “Former smokers who followed the evidence-based recommendations for body weight, diet, physical activity, and alcohol intake had a lower risk of death than ex-smokers who did not follow these recommendations.”

It is well known that quitting smoking has many health benefits, but ex-smokers are at higher risk of illness and premature death than people who have never smoked.

Past research has shown that people who follow healthy lifestyle recommendations, such as maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active, eating healthily and limiting alcohol consumption, may have a lower risk of illness and death. However, few studies have looked at the benefit of such compliance among former smokers.

The current analysis included 159,937 former smokers who filled out questionnaires asking about lifestyle, demographics, and other health-related information between 1995 and 1996, when they participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants with a mean age of 62.6 at entry to the study were followed for approximately 19 years. During the follow-up period to 2019, 86,127 participants died. Death information, including cause of death, came from the National Death Index.

For each participant, the researchers calculated a total commitment score that ranged from no commitment to full commitment. The total fit score included individual scores for body mass index based on World Health Organization guidelines; For diet quality based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010-2015; For physical activity based on the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; and for alcohol use, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

Ex-smokers with the highest overall compliance scores had a 27% lower risk of death from any cause than those with the lowest scores. Additionally, the highest scoring participants had a 24% reduction in the risk of death from cancer, 28% in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 30% reduction in the risk of death from respiratory disease. Reductions in risk of death were observed regardless of health status, other health conditions, how many cigarettes the participants smoked per day, the year they quit, and the age at which they started smoking.

The researchers also evaluated the benefit of adhering to individual lifestyle recommendations. In all cases, the highest scorers had a lower risk of death than those with the lowest scores: 17% lower for physical activity, 14% lower for body weight, 9% lower for diet quality, and 4% lower for alcohol intake. low. .

Dr. “It’s better to follow many lifestyle recommendations to get the most benefit,” said Inoue-Choi. “But even those who adopted just one lifestyle advice benefited.”

The researchers cautioned that studies based on self-reported data show no cause and effect, only associations. Although the researchers controlled for many factors that could confuse the associations, they said they could not rule out the possibility that other factors might have influenced the associations they observed.

The researchers also noted that more studies are needed to explore associations between adhering to lifestyle recommendations and risk of death among former smokers in more diverse populations.

Dr. “The NIH-AARP study is a predominantly White population of relatively high socioeconomic status,” said Inoue-Choi. “These research questions need to be extended to other populations.”

About National Cancer Institute (NCI): NCI is leading the National Cancer Program and the NIH’s efforts to significantly reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of people with cancer. NCI supports a wide range of cancer research and education through grants and contracts. NCI’s intramural research program conducts innovative, interdisciplinary fundamental, translational, clinical and epidemiological research on the causes of cancer, its prevention, risk prediction, early detection and treatment, including research at the NIH Clinical Center, the world’s largest research hospital. . Learn more about NCI’s intramural research from the Center for Cancer Research and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. For more information on cancer, please visit the NCI website at Cancer.gov or call the NCI contact center at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):The NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research and explores the causes, treatments, and cures of both common and rare diseases. For more information about the NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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