- Smoking just one cigarette can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke
- Both men and women are doubly at risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- No safe level of smoking exists and smokers need to quit smoking instead of cutting down
Smoking just one cigarette a day increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, which is more than expected and is equal to the risk of smoking 20 cigarettes per day.
The review of the evidence done by the research team was published in The BMJ
Comparison of Studies
Individual studies reported that smoking just one to five cigarettes a day increases the risk of heart disease more than expected.
The research team of this study wanted to investigate further. The team was led by Professor Allan Hackshaw at the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London.
The team analyzed the results of 141 individual studies and estimated the relative risks for smoking one, five, or 20 cigarettes a day.
Even One Cigarette Increases Risk of Heart Attack
The results showed that men who smoked one cigarette a day had 46 percent increased the risk of developing heart disease. About 41 percent were found to have increased risk of stroke due to smoking 20 cigarettes a day, which was five percent much higher than expected.
Among women, there was about 31 percent increased the risk of heart disease in those who smoked only one cigarette a day and 34 percent increased the risk of stroke in those who smoked 20 cigarettes a day.
The results also showed that the risk of heart disease had more than doubled in women who smoked one cigarette day.
"We have shown that a large proportion of the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke comes from smoking only a couple of cigarettes each day. This probably comes as a surprise to many people. But there are also biological mechanisms that help explain the unexpectedly high risk associated with a low level of smoking," revealed the authors.
What is the Safe level of Smoking?
This paper is the first to combine the results of many studies including both coronary heart disease and stroke, "making it a valuable reference that can be used to strengthen public health campaigns and provide a strong health incentive for smokers to stop completely (particularly women)," reveals the research team. However, there were some limitations in this study.
It's not cancer, but it's the cardiovascular disease that is the highest mortality risk for smoking, causing about 48 percent smoking-related premature deaths.
The research team concludes by saying that there is no safe level of smoking for cardiovascular disease. The only solution is that smokers should quit smoking instead of just cutting it down.
Using appropriate cessation aids can also help reduce the risk of these two common major disorders.
The main public health implications of these results are outlined in a linked editorial where Kenneth Johnson, Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa says that only complete cessation can be protective and needs to be emphasized by all prevention measures and policies.
The take-home message for smokers is that "any exposure to cigarette smoke is too much. The message for regulators dealing with newly marketed 'reduced risk' products is that any suggestion of severely reduced coronary heart disease and stroke from using these products is premature," added Johnson.
Health Hazards of Smoking Cigarettes
Exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful to the smoker and also non-smokers. Smoking is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable death.
Smoking has the dubious distinction of affecting all the systems from head to foot.
Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy can lead to delivery complications and increase the risk of health problems in the newborn.
In general, smoking causes many diseases and affects the overall health of smokers.
Quitting smoking reduces the health risks caused by exposure to tobacco smoke.