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Smoking Just A Few Cigarettes Can Be Harmful, Study Finds

04/20/2015 11:02 EDT | Updated 04/20/2015 11:59 EDT
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Despite decades of public health campaigning, many smokers think it's okay to just smoke a few cigarettes a day yet they underestimate their risks, according to researchers in France.

"It seems that people are aware about the dangers of tobacco for health, but might consider that the risks are not for themselves, but only for other people," says Dr. Laurent Greillier.

Dr. Greillier and his team surveyed 1,602 French people between the ages of 40 and 75 of which 1,463 had no history of cancer.

Of the component that had never experienced cancer, 481 were former smokers and 330 were current smokers, puffing away 14.2 cigarettes per day, on average.

Of the total participant group, 34 per cent wrongly believed that a daily consumption of up to 10 cigarettes was not associated with the risk of lung cancer, according to results.

"The risk for lung cancer is most dependent on duration of smoking, but of course the number per day matters also," says Dr. Carolyn Dresler, a US-based board member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). "The risk for cardiovascular disease starts with that one cigarette per day."

Half of the current smokers seemed to realize their increased risk for lung cancer over the non-smoking population.

Less than 40 per cent of participants were aware that the increased risk never returns to that of a non-smoker even after quitting.

"It is essential that public health policies continue to focus on the tobacco pandemic," says Dr. Greillier. "Our findings suggest to urgently initiating campaigns concerning the risk of any cigarette. The war against tobacco is not over!"

The study was presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Current smokers should also be aware of a 2013 study that suggested that long and ultra long cigarettes could further increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

"We found that of smokers of long or ultralong cigarettes have higher concentrations of tobacco specific carcinogens in their urine than smokers of regular or king size cigarettes," said Constantine Vardavas, MD, senior research scientist, Harvard School of Public Health.

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