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Ex-smokers regain same health status of non-smokers, but can take years

A man puts out a cigarette in Ottawa on Sept. 29, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

A new study suggests that ex-smokers can gain a health status similar to those of people their own age who never smoked — but the process takes time.

It suggests that women who quit catch up, healthwise, with non-smokers in about 10 years.

Though men’s health quality improves after five years, it takes 20 years before they reach the health quality status of similarly aged men who never smoked.

The authors say the findings underscore that there are real health benefits of quitting smoking.

The study is being published today in Health Reports, a Statistics Canada publication.

A second study published in the issue reports that current daily smokers have a 60 per cent higher risk of heart disease than people who never smoked.

The studies are based on data draw from the National Population Health Survey, which gathers information on the smoking status of Canadians every two years.

For the studies, the authors looked at nine cycles of data, covering the period from 1994-95 to 2010-11.