LONDON, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Women who quit smoking before reaching middle age can significantly cut risks of early death, according to a new study published here on Saturday.
Researchers at Oxford University found in a survey of 1.3 million women between 1996 and 2001 that women who quit smoking by the age of 30 could avoid up to 97 percent of the extra risks of premature death.
The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, echoed similar studies previously conducted on men.
"Both in the UK and in the USA, women born around 1940 were the first generation in wich many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life," said Professor Richard Peto who is one of the study's lead authors at Oxford.
"Hence, only in the 21st century could we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on premature mortality among women," he said.
The study suggested that hazards of smoking for women were greater than previously thought. Lifelong smokers died a decade earlier than those who did not smoke at all.
Male or female, "smokers who stop before reaching middle age ... will on average gain about an extra ten years of life," said Prof. Peto.
However, experts pointed out that this was not a license for the young to smoke as much as they want in their 20s, which could still increase health risks.