Light Smokers Are at More Risks than Heavy Smokers Who Quit, Researchers Say

Person holding a cigarette in their hand

Light smokers are still in danger, even if they smoke few cigarettes per day

People used to think light smokers have it better than those who smoke one pack per day, but a recent study made a disquieting discovery. It turns out those who have been heavy smokers but have quit the habit have fewer chances to get sick than light smokers who keep up the habit for a long time. This applies even if those in the first category have smoked a lot more cigarettes than the latter.

Researchers monitored smokers for 30 years

Many light smokers regard themselves as healthier when they only smoke occasionally. However, most of these people keep a long-term habit, even if the actual number of cigarettes they smoke is low. To prove them wrong, researchers decided to run a longitudinal study and discover the effects of light smoking.

This way, they ran the CARDIA study, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. They selected 3,140 people and measured their lung function periodically over 30 years. When the study started, the average age of the participants was 25. Also, about half of them were heavy smokers, while other described themselves as either light smokers or non-smokers.

Throughout the 30-year period, researchers performed spirometries and CT scans on their lungs. This way, they could observe the differences produced by various smoking habits. Also, every year, the participants had to answer questions on their habits. This way, they could see if someone quit or took up smoking.

Light smokers might be at huge risks if they don’t quit

Of course, the heavy smoker category had the worst lung function of all and were at the highest risks of getting respiratory diseases. This was expectable, but the study highlighted other interesting results as well. Far from being healthier, light smokers had a higher decline in their lungs than heavy smokers who quit.

Therefore, smoking fewer cigarettes but on a regular basis is still bad. Researchers explained that diseases like emphysema are more likely to be influenced by the duration of your habit, rather than its intensity. They presented these findings during the American Thoracic Society International Conference.

Image source: Pixabay

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