RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The down economy has led to the first increase in smoking rates in 10 years. And if you're part of that trend, the health risks of smoking could be killing your heart, even if you smoke only a cigarette or two a day. A study published in the medical journal Circulation has found that the most substantial increases in risk of death from heart problems occur with the first few puffs you take. Which makes quitting smoking entirely the surest way to protect yourself.
THE DETAILS: Researchers collected data on smoking and disease from a study conducted by the American Cancer Society in 1982. They pulled information on smoking history, alcohol use, age, weight, sex, marital status, and other demographics from surveys completed by adults over 30 who lived in a household with someone over the age of 45. That information was compared with death records to see who had died from ischemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and cardiopulmonary disease.
For more information about smoking, and how to quit, see:
How Whiskers and a Cold Nose Will Help You Quit Smoking
To Quit Smoking and Lose Weight, Look in the Mirror
Thirdhand Smoke: A Hidden Hazard for Kids and Babies
Smoke-Lead Combo Raises ADHD Risk
Save Your Brain: Avoid These 4 Bad Habits
Recession Raises Smoking Rates; Women’s Lungs at Extra Risk
Their study found that people who saw the greatest increase in their risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases were those who were exposed to the least amount of smoke. For instance, a person smoking less than three cigarettes per day would see a 64 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to nonsmokers. But if that person jumped to smoking between 13 and 17 cigarettes per day, his risk would increase only another 3 percent, to 67 percent. Also surprising was the health risks to people exposed to secondhand smoke. Adults who smoke less than three cigarettes per day are exposed to 18 milligrams of dangerous particulate matter every day, while secondhand smokers are exposed to a minute fraction of that amount, 0.44 milligrams. Yet, even that tiny amount led to a 31 percent increase in the risk of death from cardiopulmonary disease, compared to people not exposed to cigarette smoke.