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Am J Epidemiol. 2014 May 1;179(9):1060-70. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu011. Epub 2014 Mar 27.

Changes in smoking behavior and subsequent mortality risk during a 35-year follow-up of a cohort in Xi'an, China.


Prospective evidence of the associations of smoking cessation with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other causes of death in Asia is scarce. Previous studies, which were mostly based on baseline smoking behavior only, were subject to sick-quitter bias and misclassification resulting from changes in smoking behavior during follow-up. We followed up a cohort for 18 years (1976-1994) to assess changes in smoking behavior and then for an additional 17 years (1994-2011) to examine the relationships of continuing to smoke and new quitting with mortality risk in 1,494 Chinese people (961 men, 533 women). Of the baseline current smokers, 38.7% quit between 1976 and 1994. From 1994 to 2011, a total of 488 persons (359 men, 129 women) died. Ever smokers had increased risks of lung cancer, coronary heart disease, thrombotic stroke, and COPD, with dose-response relationships. For all tobacco-related mortality, the relative risk for new quitters compared with continuing smokers was 0.68 (95% confidence interval: 0.46, 0.99) for those who had quit 2-7 years previously and 0.56 (95% confidence interval: 0.37, 0.85) for those who had quit 8 years or more previously. The corresponding relative risks were 0.69 and 0.45 for lung cancer, 0.78 and 0.51 for coronary heart disease, 0.76 and 0.84 for thrombotic stroke, and 0.89 and 0.61 for COPD, respectively. Smoking increased tobacco-related deaths, and particularly deaths from COPD, in China, whereas quitting at middle age (at approximately 50 years of age) substantially reduced the risks of death from these causes. The benefits of smoking cessation were underestimated in previous studies that did not use repeated measures.


Chinese; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; cohort study; quitting; smoking; tobacco-related mortality

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