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Am J Public Health. 1990 Aug;80(8):954-8.

The relationship of smoking cessation to coronary heart disease and lung cancer in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT).

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Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655.


The impact of smoking cessation on coronary heart disease (CHD) and lung cancer was assessed after 10.5 years of follow-up in the 12,866 men in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT). Those men who died of lung cancer (n = 119) were either cigarette smokers at entry or ex-smokers; no lung cancer deaths occurred among the 1,859 men who reported never smoking cigarettes. The risk of lung cancer for smokers, adjusted for selected baseline variables using a Cox proportional hazards model, increased as the number of cigarettes smoked increased (B = 0.0203, SE = 0.0076). There was not the same graded response for CHD among smokers at entry. The risk of CHD death was greater among smokers than nonsmokers (RR = 1.57) (B = -0.0034, S.E. = 0.0048). After one year of cessation, the relative risk of dying of CHD for the quitters as compared to non-quitters (RR = 0.63) was significantly lower even after adjusting for baseline differences and changes in other risk factors. The relative risk for smokers who quit for at least the first three years of the trial was even lower compared to non-quitters (RR = 0.38). However, the relative risk for lung cancer for quitters versus non-quitters was close to 1 both for quitters at 12 months and at three years. These data support the benefits of cessation in relation to CHD and are consistent with other epidemiologic studies which suggest that the lag time for a beneficial effect of smoking cessation on lung cancer may be as long as 20 years.

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