It isn’t exactly breaking news that smoking is bad for you. But the extent of its damage is shocking: A whopping 2 out of every 3 smokers will die from lighting up, according to estimates from new Australian research.
People over the age of 45 who reported smoking at the beginning of the study were nearly 3 times more likely to die of any cause by the 4-year follow-up than non-smokers.
And the smokers’ chances of croaking early depended on the details of their daily habit: Those who puffed on 25 or more cigarettes a day were about 4 times more likely to pack it in prematurely than abstainers.
To put it another way, people who reported regularly lighting up died an average of 10 years before non-smokers did.
How come? “The latest research shows that smoking increases the risk of 30 different diseases, the most common of which are cancer, chronic lung disease, and heart disease,” says study author Emily Banks, Ph.D. “Smoking directly affects the lung tissue, but its negative effects can be seen in almost every single part of the body.”
But there’s always a silver lining: Quit smoking now and the habit is significantly less likely to kill you.
“If you give up smoking before you hit 45, your risk of dying prematurely is similar to people who have never smoked,” says Banks. “That doesn’t mean you’ll avoid all the negative effects of smoking, but it does mean that you’ll have avoided most of the risk of dying early.”