Cutting Back on Smoking Won't Cut Death Risk
Quitting is the only real route to health, study finds
TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Less is not more when it comes to smokers' health, new research finds.
A Norwegian study found that merely cutting back on the number of cigarettes smoked per day did not lower a heavy smoker's risk of early death.
Reporting in the journal Tobacco Control, a team from the National Health Screening Service in Oslo found that limiting the daily amount of cigarettes may be useful as a temporary measure when a smoker is trying to quit, but kicking the habit is the only real way of reducing the risk of smoking-related health consequences and early death.
The team studied more than 51,000 men and women ranging in age from 20 to 34 at the start of the study, when they were first assessed for cardiovascular risk factors. The participants were screened again two more times over an average follow-up of 20 years.
The participants were classified as: never smokers; quitters (those who stopped smoking between the first and second screening); moderate smokers (1 to 14 cigarettes a day); reducers (more than 15 cigarettes a day, but by more than half at the second screening); and heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day).
Compared to men who were heavy smokers, death rates from all causes were not significantly different for male "reducers." And women who cut back on smoking actually had higher death rates from all causes than female heavy smokers.
People may be misled if they're told that cutting back on their smoking may help them stave off disease and early death, the study authors concluded.
The American Cancer Society offers a Guide to Quitting Smoking.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, Tobacco Control, news release, Nov. 28, 2006
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