Heart at­tack risk high with one cig­a­rette a day: study

The Miracle - - Health -

Just one cig­a­rette a day car­ries nearly half the risk for heart at­tack and stroke as smok­ing a full pack of 20, ac­cord­ing to a large-scale study pub­lished Thurs­day. “If some­one smokes one cig­a­rette in­stead of 20 per day, in­tu­itively we’d think that the risk drops to 1/20, or five per­cent,” said lead au­thor Al­lan Hack­shaw, a pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don, whose pa­per an­a­lyzed 141 pre­vi­ous stud­ies. “This seems to be the case for lung cancer, but is not true for heart at­tacks and stroke, where one cig­a­rette per day car­ries around 50 per­cent of the risk of a pack a day,” Smok­ers should not be fooled, in other words, into think­ing that a few cig­a­rettes a day — or even just one — car­ries lit­tle or no long term harm, he added. “Whilst it is great that smok­ers try to cut down — and they should be pos­i­tively en­cour­aged to do so — in or­der to get the big ben­e­fits on car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease they need to quit com­pletely,” he said by email. The find­ings were pub­lished in the med­i­cal jour­nal BMJ. To­bacco kills about seven mil­lion peo­ple world­wide ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. About two mil­lion of those deaths are due to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, mainly coro­nary heart at­tacks and stroke. Ear­lier re­search sug­gested that smok­ing a few cig­a­rettes a day was linked to a high­erthan-ex­pected risk of heart dis­ease, but find­ings were in­con­clu­sive. To probe deeper, a team of sci­en­tists led by Hack­shaw an­a­lyzed the re­sults of 141 stud- ies, es­ti­mat­ing the rel­a­tive risk of one, five or 20 cig­a­rettes a day. They found that men who lit up once a day had 46 per­cent of the ex­cess risk of heart dis­ease as­so­ci­ated with smok­ing a full pack a day, much higher than ex­pected. For strokes, the ex­cess risk was 41 per­cent. For rea­sons that are not fully un­der­stood, the risk for women was some­what smaller — 31 and 34 per­cent, re­spec­tively. “It could be a mix­ture of bi­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ence and dif­fer­ences in life­style,” said Hack­shaw. Over­all, long-term smok­ing short­ens life ex­pectancy by 12-15 years. “This well con­ducted study con­firms what epi­demi­ol­o­gists have sus­pected but few among the pub­lic have,” com­mented Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford pro­fes­sor Paul Ave­yard, who was not in­volved in the re­search. “The im­pli­ca­tion is ob­vi­ous — any­one who smokes should stop.” At the same time, he added, it would be wrong to con­clude that cut­ting down is use­less. “There is more rea­son to be­lieve that lower cig­a­rette con­sump­tion will re­duce the risk of chronic lung dis­ease and lung cancer, the other two big causes of early death from smok­ing,” he said via Bri­tain’s Sci­ence Me­dia Cen­ter.

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