A large population-based study in South Korea showed that quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer for years after quitting. It is still better to stop as soon as possible. Especially for lung cancer.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is responsible for about 22% of all deaths from cancer. This is because smoking damages the DNA of cells and causes mutations that can lead to uncontrolled cell growth. Smoking therefore increases the risk of various types of cancer, including lung, stomach, colon, liver, pancreas, breast, cervix, prostate and bladder.
So starting smoking is not a good idea, but what about people who quit smoking? How long will it take for my cancer risk to decrease? Does it matter at what age they stop? Researchers in Seoul National University College of Medicine To answer.
To this end, they conducted a large-scale population survey in South Korea. They followed more than a million people aged forty and over for fifteen years – between 2002 and 2017. They collected data on smoking status, age, gender, body weight, alcohol consumption, exercise and other factors. They also looked at whether people had cancer, and if so, what type.
He resigned before the age of fifty
It showed that quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of cancer compared to continuing to smoke. The effect was strongest for lung cancer, the most common and deadliest cancer in smokers. People who stopped smoking were 50% less likely to develop lung cancer after ten years than people who continued to smoke. Quitting smoking before the age of 50 reduces the risk of lung cancer more than people who quit later. But quitting smoking has also been shown to have a very beneficial effect on other forms of cancer. Such as cancer of the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, breast and prostate. However, the effect was less strong than for lung cancer, and the age at which a person stopped smoking had a smaller effect on the risk of developing one of these types of cancer.
This study is one of the largest and longest population studies on the relationship between smoking and cancer. It is no coincidence that the research was conducted in Korea. The population of Korea has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. According to the World Health Organization, nearly half of Korean men and about 6% of Korean women smoked in 2018. Because this is not representative of the rest of the world's population, the researchers want to expand the study and compare it with other populations and cultures. The Korean population also has a high prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis and cirrhosis. Meanwhile, breast and prostate cancer are less common. All of this could affect the relationship between smoking and cancer. The researchers also want to include more cancers in their analysis, such as kidney, esophageal, mouth and throat cancer, which are also linked to smoking.
Stopping is always better
Although the research cannot be directly generalized to other countries, it remains proven that quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of cancer, even decades after quitting. Therefore, researchers stress that it is not too late to stop – although, especially in the case of lung cancer, it is still better to stop before middle age. They hope that their findings will contribute to cancer prevention and control, and will motivate and help smokers to quit smoking.
Stopping earlier would be better, according to previous research. It turns out that it is better to quit smoking before the age of 35 years. If you succeed, you will generally live the same lifespan as someone who has never lit a cigarette before. “Quitting smoking before the age of 35 is actually life-saving,” researcher Blake Thompson said earlier in an interview with the magazine. Scientias.nl. However, this does not mean that smoking is harmless until the age of 35 and then just stop, warns Thompson. “This is certainly not without consequences. Smoking affects the quality of life and causes significant damage to the body, even if it is not fatal.
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