- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nearly everyone knows that smoking is a bad idea, but those who can’t give up the habit may get a little protection from exercise, a study suggests. In a study of older women, researchers found that a physically active smoker had a 35 percent lower risk of lung cancer than a sedentary smoker.

However, exercising does not give women a free pass to smoke, the study’s lead author said.

Kathryn Schmitz, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said those who quit smoking are 10 to 11 times less likely to develop lung cancer than those who smoke.

The research, published in this month’s issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, was based on information from the Iowa Women’s Health Study, begun in 1986 to follow nearly 42,000 older women.

By the end of 2002, the data included 36,410 participants, and 777 had lung cancer. Of those, 125 were nonsmokers, 177 were former smokers and 475 were current smokers. Among smokers, the greatest number of cancer cases, 324, came from women who currently smoked and weren’t active. Among physically active smokers, there were 151 cases of lung cancer.

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