- Najja Parker The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Do you partake in the occasional cigarette? Beware: Just smoking one can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University College London and Chinese University of Hong Kong recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to determine the link between light smoking and cardiovascular disease.
To do so, they examined 141 previous studies on the dangers of smoking from the last 70 years. They analyzed the research to find out the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke for those who smoked one cigarette a day, five cigarettes a day and 20 cigarettes a day.
After analyzing the results, they found that smoking one cigarette a day raised heart disease risk for women by 57 percent and stroke risk by 31 percent, compared with non-smoking women. As for men, smoking one cigarette a day elevated their chances of heart disease by 48 percent and stroke risk by 25 percent, compared to non-smoking men.
Although the risks of heart disease and stroke may seem lower for those who smoke once a day, the risks are actually similar for those who smoke 20 cigarettes a day.
Women who smoked one cigarette a day had 38 percent of the coronary heart disease risk and 36 percent of the stroke risk of those who smoke 20 a day. Men smoking one cigarette a day had 53 percent of the coronary heart disease risk and 64 percent of the stroke risk of men smoking 20 a day.
Previous studies have shown that cutting down the number of cigarettes can reduce cancer risk. However, that is not the case for heart disease. “No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease,” the authors wrote in the study.
“Smoking only one to five cigarettes per day is associated with a risk of coronary heart disease and stroke that is substantially higher than many health professionals or smokers recognise (as much as half the risk of smoking 20 per day),” they said. “Smokers need to quit completely rather than cut down if they wish to avoid most of the risk associated with heart disease and stroke, two common and major disorders caused by smoking.”
The scientists suggest that smokers use products containing nicotine− including gum, patches or e-cigarettes − to wean them off of cigarettes.
They believe these items are “important components of harm reduction that can help people to quit completely, which is necessary to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”