BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Health warning for light smokers
Smoking is linked to cancer and heart disease
People who smoke just a few cigarettes each day are seriously damaging their health, doctors have warned.

And women may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of tobacco.

A study by doctors in Denmark has found women who smoke just three cigarettes a day double their chances of having a heart attack and of dying early.


Smokers who are concerned about their health should aim to stop smoking completely

Amanda Sandford, Ash
Men run similar risks if they smoke six cigarettes or a cigar each day.

The findings are based on a 22-year study of more than 12,000 people in Copenhagen.

Dr Eva Prescott and colleagues at the city's Ama Hospital analysed the cause of death among people in this group over the past two decades.

A total of 2,305 women and 2,883 men died from a variety of causes during this time.

Link found

But their study found that many were linked with smoking.

Interestingly, they also discovered that some deaths were among those who were only light smokers or who said they smoked but didn't inhale.

According to the study, people who claim not to inhale are 60% more likely to have a heart attack or die young compared to those who never smoke.

Many smokers assume that because they only smoke a few cigarettes each day they are not putting themselves at risk.

But the authors said their findings showed that this was not the case.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, they added: "From a public health point of view it is important to recognise the increased risk associated with even a low consumption of tobacco."

The doctors suggested that the higher risks for women may be because they are more prone to respiratory disease than men.

It could also be linked to the fact that smoking affects the balance of oestrogen, which can protect against heart disease.

Important message

Amanda Sandford, of anti-smoking organisation Ash, said the study should send an important message to people who try to cut down on cigarettes rather than stop completely.

She said: "Smokers who are concerned about their health should aim to stop smoking completely and not be conned into thinking that cutting down will be enough to protect them from heart disease."

She said many young women continued to smoke because of fears about putting on weight.

"But the health risks from weight gain after quitting smoking are minuscule compared with the health risks from smoking," she said.

Alison Shaw, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The research findings come as no surprise.

"The dangers of smoking and passive smoking are well known.

"Smoking is a major risk factor for developing coronary heart disease, along with high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity.

"An estimated 19% of deaths from coronary heart disease are thought to be due to smoking."

She said it was also known that passive smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

Ms Shaw said: "Light smoking or smoking, whether someone inhales or not, should be avoided."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Gill Higgins
"No level of smoking is safe"
Ed Hudson, QUIT
"There is going to be a lot of smokers who will be shocked after hearing this study"
See also:

01 Aug 02 | Health
31 Jul 02 | Health
26 Jul 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes