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Smoking Fewer Cigarettes Does Not Lower Risk of Early Death

Update Date: Jul 06, 2013 12:24 PM EDT
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It is common knowledge for most people that smoking is extremely detrimental to health. Smoking is the number leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and it contributes to diseases, such as throat and lung cancers. Even though the current statistics revealing the dangers of smoking are starting to show up everywhere due to political and health campaigns, successfully quitting the habit is difficult. Instead of quitting completely, some smokers might choose to smoke fewer cigarettes as a way to ease the effects. However, in a new study, researchers suggest that smoking less does not help extend the lifespan of a smoker.

In this study, the research team from the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling reviewed data that was compiled from 5,200 residents from the Central Belt of Scotland. All of the participants were smokers during the start of two studies back in the early 1970s. The researchers followed up on the smokers a few years after the studies started and found that some had quit smoking, others had reduced the amount of cigarettes they smoked and the rest either smoked the same amount or smoked more. The researchers then recorded the number of deaths from the second screening up to 2010.

The researchers found that smokers who quit had lower mortality rates than smokers who maintained their habits. Interestingly enough, the researchers did not find a difference in the mortality rates between smokers who smoked the same amount and smokers who reduced the amount. This finding suggests that in order for smokers who want to be healthier to actually improve their health, they must quit the habit completely.

"Our results support the view that reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke is not a reliable way of improving your health in the long term," one of the authors, Professor Linda Bauld said according to Medical Xpress. "However, what we do not know is that it may have a valuable role as a step toward giving up altogether - through cutting down to quit, an approach that has been recommended in recent guidance in the UK."

The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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