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Having looked at the findings of 17 previous studies involving more than 877,000 participants, German researchers claim it's never too late to quit and suggested even over-60s could prolong their life by giving up.
The research team found that smokers aged 60 or over were 83 per cent more likely than no-smokers to die at any given age, and though the link was not so pronounced, evidence suggested the same was true even of 80-year-olds and above.
Among the research compiled were a British study, which revealed that 59 per cent of non-smokers were still going strong at 80 years of age compared with just 26 per cent of smokers.
Dr Hermann Brenner of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, who led the team, wrote in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine: "This fact calls for effective smoking cessation programs that are likely to have major preventive effects even for smokers aged 60 years and older.
"Even older people who smoked for a lifetime without negative health consequences should be encouraged and supported to quit smoking."
While the report suggests it's never too late to experience the health benefits of quitting, smoking researcher Dr Prabhat Jha, from St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, insisted that giving up before the onset of serious illness gave reformed smokers the best chance of a longer life.
Pointing out that the aforementioned British study showed those who quit before they turned 40 had nearly the same death rates as non-smokers, he stressed: "Quitting works at any age but is especially effective if people quit before disease."
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