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Smoking 'cuts life by ten years'

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Middle-aged smokers with high cholesterol and high blood pressure could see their habit shave ten years off their life expectancy, research has revealed.

The study in the British Medical Journal followed 19,000 men for an average of 38 years. Two-thirds of those still alive in 1997 had given-up smoking, leading the report to conclude that men who smoked and had raised cholesterol and blood pressure had a 10-year shorter life expectancy from the age of 50.

People with other health worries, such as being overweight, could fare worse, with such conditions shaving an average of 15 years off their lives.

The investigation also noted a fall in smoking-related deaths, saying that an increased number of people kicking the habit, changes in diet and lifestyle and improvements in the treatment of cardiovascular disease had contributed to this.

The publication of the research comes amid calls by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for additional measures to cut the number of deaths from heart disease, which is responsible for one in three deaths in England. The CQC said it acknowledged that the Government had already met its target of cutting such deaths among under-75s by at least 40%, but said more could be done.

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