We all know that smoking can trigger lung and heart diseases, but many smokers tend to take all these in stride--until the worst happens to them.

A new study featured on MedicalNewsToday.com has revealed that smoking sharply increases the risk of an early death, even in those who only take a couple of sticks a day. Known as "The Million Women Study," researchers from the University of Oxford followed 1.3 million women, with ages that ranged from 50 to 65 years old, from 1996 to 2001. Of the total number of participants, 20 percent were current smokers, 28 percent were former smokers, and 52 percent never smoked. Twelve years after the study began, researchers used government records to see who of the participants have already passed on, as well as the causes of death.

Results showed that "women who were still smoking when surveyed three years after enrollment were nearly three times more likely to die over the ensuing nine years than non-smokers."

Being a "light smoker" (those who take a maximum of nine sticks a day) had no effect in the results, as lighting even one cigarette increased a person's risk of dying two-fold within the succeeding nine years. Although these facts may sound frightening, there still is hope -- the study has also shown that those who manage to kick the habit in their 30's to 40's have a 90 percent chance of keeping ten years of their lives that they would've lost if they had continued smoking.

Quitting isn't easy, but it's best if you can do so as earlier as you can. There are many doctors and support groups who can help you go through the transition. You can also visit GIRLTalk for the sound advice of your fellow FNites.

(Photo by Milan Sijan via Flickr Creative Commons)

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