Smoking even one cigarette a day raises cardiovascular risk

For people who think that smoking only one or two cigarettes a day carries little cardiovascular risk, a powerful new study maintains the only way to reduce risk is to quit, full stop.

The investigators anticipated that smoking one cigarette a day would be associated with about 5% of the excess relative risk of smoking 20 cigarettes a day, but they found it actually accounts for 46% of excess CHD risk in men and 31% of the risk in women.

The data was gathered from 141 different studies and published online today in the British Medical Journal.

“There’s been a big shift from people smoking 20 to 25 cigarettes a day to only smoking a few cigarettes a day with the assumption that’s good enough for them. Their view is that smoking only a couple a day can’t be harmful and that’s probably not far off the truth for risk for cancer. For many smokers that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind, but cardiovascular risk is the big one,” lead author, Dr Allan Hackshaw told theheart.org.