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Do older people quit smoking for the wrong reasons?

Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that elderly women are more likely to quit smoking than elderly men, while results are just the opposite for studies among younger populations.

"Smoking cessation was also observed more frequently among elders who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. In addition, the rate of recidivism (resuming smoking) was only 16 percent among the elderly smokers who quit, whereas previous studies report relapse rates of 35-45 percent, says head researcher Dr. Heather E. Whitson of Duke University Center for Aging." These findings indicate that older smokers may quit smoking for different reasons than younger smokers.

The study did not directly assess the smokers' reasons for quitting, but the authors postulate that factors such as lack of transportation, poor financial situation and dementia might contribute to smoking cessation in older smokers. Regardless of reason, the cessation of smoking may lower the risk of death, even when it occurs at an advanced age. The seven-year death rate among non-quitters in the study was 51.6% compared to only 44% among the quitters (although the difference was not statistically significant).

The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a survey of its members to find that only 39 percent of smokers had been advised by their physicians in the past year to stop smoking. Physicians may assume that older smokers are unlikely to give up one their few remaining pleasures. However, the Duke data suggests that further research is needed to understand the unique motivations and potential benefits of smoking cessation in the elderly.


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Contact: Heather Noonan
medicanews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net
781-388-8540
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
23-Mar-2006


Page: 1

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