Safe Smoking? No Such Thing

Smoking cigarettes in small amounts linked to earlier death

(RxWiki News) Even smoking an average of one cigarette or less per day may increase your risk of dying earlier, a new study found.

And that finding, among others, led the National Cancer Institute researchers behind this study to conclude that even low-intensity smoking is dangerous.

These researchers looked at more than 290,000 adults between the ages of 59 and 82. Those who smoked on average one cigarette or less per day were 64 percent more likely than those who had never smoked to die early. 

Crank it up to between one and 10 cigarettes per day — which these researchers still considered "low-intensity" smoking — and that increased risk jumped to 87 percent, according to this study.

Many of the earlier deaths in this study were attributed to lung cancer. Those who smoked one cigarette or less throughout their lifetime were around nine times more likely to die from lung cancer than those who had never smoked. Those who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes a day had 12 times the risk of never-smokers.

These researchers noted that risks dropped when participants quit smoking — the earlier the better. 

In some cases, the study participants had to remember smoking habits from decades ago, which could limit accuracy. And few consistently low-intensity smokers were identified for this study, these researchers noted.

Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking.

This study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics funded this research. One study author worked for the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, but this study was not part of that job.

Review Date: 
December 7, 2016