One cigarette a day linked to risk of serious heart problems


LONDON: Even smoking just one cigarette a day is linked to major risk of heart problems, a new study suggests. Researchers said there is “no safe level” of smoking as they urged smokers to quit instead of “cutting down”.
Their study found that smoking one cigarette a day was associated with at least a 48% increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men. It was also linked to at least a 57% increased risk of CHD for women. And both men and women who smoke just one cigarette a day have a 30% increased risk of stroke.
Experts, led by researchers from the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London, analysed the results of 141 studies and estimated the relative risks for smoking one, five or 20 cigarettes per day. They found that among men, half of the risk associated with smoking a pack of 20 comes from just the first cigarette. In women, a single cigarette accounted for about a third of the risk associated with one pack. Their study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), concludes that smoking one cigarette a day carries a higher risk than expected for CHD or stroke. Instead of trying to cut down, smokers should aim to quit, they said.”Smoking only about one cigarette per day carries a risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke much greater than expected: around half that for people who smoke 20 per day,” the authors wrote.
No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease. Smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down to significantly reduce their risk of these two common major disorders.”
People who smoked even one cigarette a day were still about 50% more likely to develop heart disease and 30% more likely to have a stroke than people who had never smoked, researchers said. They said it showed there was no safe level of smoking for such diseases.
Cardiovascular disease, not cancer, is the greatest mortality risk for smoking, causing about 48% of smoking-related premature deaths. While the percentage of adults in the UK who smoked had been falling, the proportion of people who smoked one to five cigarettes a day had been rising steadily, researchers said.
Their analysis of 141 studies, published in the BMJ, indicates a 20-a-day habit would cause seven heart attacks or strokes in a group of 100 middle-aged people. But if they drastically cut back to one a day it would still cause three heart attacks, the research suggests.
The researchers said men who smoked one cigarette a day had about a 48% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and were 25% more likely to have a stroke than those who had never smoked. For women, it was higher – 57% for heart disease and 31% for stroke.
Prof Allan Hackshaw at the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London, who led the study, told the BBC: “There’s been a trend in quite a few countries for heavy smokers to cut down, thinking that’s perfectly fine, which is the case for things like cancer. “But for these two common disorders, which they’re probably more likely to get than cancer, it’s not the case. They’ve got to stop completely.”