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Bad news for anyone who smokes even just one cigarette a day

25 January 2018

A report from Allan Hackshaw, a professor at University College London, claims that your chances of contracting lung cancer are reduced significantly if you cut down to just one a day. The increases in risk for both sexes were about half those for 20-a-day smokers.

"Smoking only one to five cigarettes per day is associated with a risk of coronary heart disease and stroke that is substantially higher than many health professionals or smokers recognize (as much as half the risk of smoking 20 per day)".

They also found that the risk of stroke was 31% higher in women, and 25% higher in men from just the one daily cigarette. Women saw at least a 57 per cent increased risk of CHD.

The researchers acknowledge their findings may come as a surprise to people who expected to discover that smoking one instead of 20 cigarettes a day has about one twentieth of the risk.

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Individual studies have reported that smoking only one to five cigarettes per day is associated with a higher than expected risk of heart disease.

While the team note that there were differences between the studies, they found that all studies showed the risk from one cigarette a day on coronary heart disease to be far greater than 5% of that from smoking 20 a day. Smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down to significantly reduce their risk of these two common major disorders'.

Among 100 people who smoke 20 cigarettes a day, approximately an extra seven people will suffer a heart attack or stroke because of the habit.

"Health considerations are obviously a factor in whether or not people smoke but there are other factors, including pleasure, that determine people's choices and no amount of scaremongering about the risks of even a single cigarette a day will change that".

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Cardiovascular disease, not cancer, is the greatest mortality risk for smoking, causing about 48 per cent of smoking-related premature deaths, researchers said.

'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, ' the authors conclude.

Note that this meta-analysis of studies of the effects of smoking on cardiovascular disease suggest no "safe" threshold for smoking compared with non-smoking.

"No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease".

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Paul Aveyard, Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Oxford, said the study has confirmed a suspicion amongst epidemiologists that light smoking carries a "substantial risk for heart disease and stroke". "Only complete cessation is protective and should be emphasized by all prevention measures and policies".

Bad news for anyone who smokes even just one cigarette a day