Even a small amount of smoke can be hazardous to your health, according to a new study.
Smoking a few cigarettes a day, inhaling someone else’s smoke or breathing polluted air can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to a report in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Journal.
Highlights from the study include:
* People smoking three or fewer cigarettes a day had about a 65 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those smoking none.
* Those exposed to air pollution and secondhand smoke had a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those without exposure.
* Even low levels of smoke increase the risk of heart or stroke death.
“The evidence in this integrated analysis suggests that there are no apparent safe levels of exposure to cigarette smoke or ambient air pollution,” said C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D., Mary Lou Fulton Professor at Brigham Young University. “This may be due to the fact that even with relatively low levels of smoke there are adverse biologic responses, such as inflammation, increased platelet activation and altered cardiac function.”
Researchers used data from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II and integrated it with studies of secondhand smoke and pollution. The large amount of data allowed researchers to pinpoint excess risk of cardiovascular death associated with relatively small increments of cigarette smoking, while controlling other risk factors, such as education, marital status, body mass, alcohol consumption and diet.
Pope said reasonable efforts should be made to avoid secondhand smoke and public policy must improve air quality to have a positive impact on public health.
“A critical finding of our study is that smoking is unhealthy even at small amounts,” Pope said. “Our analysis illustrates that it doesn’t require extreme exposure to have significant cardiovascular effects. Reducing the amount one smokes does some good, but the biggest benefits come from stopping completely.”
If you need help quitting
Western Baptist offers assistance to those who want to quit smoking. Free classes are available; phone (270) 442-1310 for the current schedule. Also, “Quit Now” offers free one-on-one consultations with a physician on Nov. 19, the Great American Smokeout; phone (270) 575-2895 for an appointment.
Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline
For help identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, phone our award-winning Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with a registered nurse at Western Baptist.