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Smoking can reduce women’s lifespan by at least 10 years, according to a new study. Quitting smoking can add years back to a woman’s life expectancy.

British researchers evaluated data from more than one million women, who began the study when they were ages 50 to 65. They were followed for 12 years. At the beginning of the study, 20 percent of the women smoked, while 28 percent were former smokers and 52 percent had never smoked, HealthDay reports.

Women who continued to smoke three years into the study were almost three times as likely to die in the following nine years, compared with women who did not smoke. The researchers concluded that two-thirds of all deaths in female smokers in their 50s, 60s and 70s are due to smoking.

The more women smoked, the greater their risk of death, the researchers reported in The Lancet. Even women who smoked one to nine cigarettes a day—considered light smokers—were twice as likely to die compared with nonsmokers.

Women who stopped smoking before age 40 avoided more than 90 percent of the risk of dying due to smoking. Those who stopped before age 30 avoided more than 97 percent of the risk.

“If women smoke like men, they die like men — but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra 10 years of life,” study co-author Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford in England, said in a journal news release. The researchers noted that the key finding of the study is that both the hazards of smoking and the benefits of stopping are bigger than previous studies have suggested.

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