~ Just Four Cigarettes a Day Can Be Deadly

Daily Post, 09-22-05

Smoking only a few cigarettes a day almost triples the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, researchers said today.

The impact of "light smoking" - between one and four cigarettes a day - is even stronger in women, according to the study published in Tobacco Control.

The findings quash the notion that "light" smokers escape the serious health problems faced by those who are heavy smokers.

The research was carried out by Dr Aage Tverdal, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Dr Kjell Bjartveit, from the National Health Screening Service in Oslo.

They tracked the health and death rates among almost 43,000 men and women in Norway from the mid-1970s up until 2002.

At the start of the study, all those taking part were aged 35 to 49 and were screened for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Taking into account other risk factors, the researchers were able to conclude that light smoking did significantly endanger health.

People who smoked between one and five cigarettes a day were almost three times more likely to die from coronary artery disease than those who had never smoked.

Men who were light smokers were almost three times more likely to be killed by lung cancer, while women were almost five times as likely to die of the disease as their non-smoking peers. The researchers also found that light smokers had significantly higher death rates from all causes - up by 1.5 times - compared to people who had never smoked.

Death rates were also linked to the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

The researchers said that many people in the past had assumed that a few cigarettes a day were not harmful to health.

But they said that research had now shown that this was not the case.

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