Worker Health and Wellness

‘Low-intensity smoking’ still poses health risks: study

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Bethesda, MD – Are you a casual smoker? Do you smoke less than one cigarette a day? You still could face significant health problems, according to a study from the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 290,000 adults ages 59 to 82 in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. They found that people who consistently smoke less than one cigarette a day have a 64 percent higher risk of dying earlier than nonsmokers. Smokers who average one to 10 cigarettes a day – called “low-intensity smoking” – have an 87 percent higher risk of dying earlier than nonsmokers.

Adults who smoked less than one cigarette a day had nine times the risk of dying from lung cancer, and the risk increased to 12 times higher for those who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day compared with nonsmokers.

In addition, low-intensity smokers had more than six times the risk of dying from a respiratory disease and 1.5 times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who never smoked.

“The results of this study support health warnings that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a member of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, said in a press release. “Together, these findings indicate that smoking even a small number of cigarettes per day has substantial negative health effects and provide further evidence that smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke.”

The study was published Dec. 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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