Smokers 'boost their health by trying to quit'
Smokers who try to give up help themselves live longer even if they fail, a major study has shown.
Researchers who studied more than 1,000 men over 30 years found that even quitting temporarily improved a person's prospects.
Smoking was strongly associated with a decline in lung function in later life, which in turn was linked with the risk of death from all causes.
Similar findings have emerged from previous studies, but one unusual result stood out in the new research, from Finland.
Health improvement was not confined to people who succeeded in giving up smoking.
Even those who repeatedly tried to quit and failed - described as "intermittent smokers" by the researchers - had significantly better-working lungs than continuous smokers and were likely to live longer.
Giving up even for a while could reduce the risk of dying early by 20%, according to the results reported in the journal Thorax.
The researchers, led by Dr Margit Pelkonen from the University of Kuopio in Finland, studied more than 1,000 men aged between 40 and 59 from two rural areas in Finland.
The findings were welcomed by anti-smoking groups in Britain.
A spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: "The good news message is that it should give encouragement to those smokers who think they will never succeed at quitting. It is always worth a go."