Just cutting down the number of cigarettes does not reduce smokers' risk of early death

July 4, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Smokers are unlikely to extend their lifespan if they choose to smoke fewer cigarettes but don't give up altogether.

The conclusion was reached by researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling who examined data from more than 5,200 living in the central belt of Scotland who were smoking when first recruited to two studies in early 1970s.

All of the participants were re-contacted a few years later and asked again about their smoking. Some had stopped altogether, some had reduced the number of they smoked, while others had maintained or increased the level of their smoking.

All deaths were logged between the second screening and 2010, enabling the researchers to see whether there was any difference in the mortality rates between the quitters, reducers and maintainers.

The researchers found that, compared to maintainers, the quitters had lower mortality rates, but there was no significant difference between the reducers and the maintainers.

In one of the two studies, a sub-group of the reducers who had been among the heaviest at the start did show lower mortality rates but this was not seen in the other study.

The Scottish findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, do not support those of a similar long-term study in Israel where smoking reduction did appear to reduce , but are consistent with larger studies of shorter duration in Denmark and Norway where it did not.

Professor Linda Bauld from Stirling University, one of the paper's authors said: "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.

"However, what we do now 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".

Explore further: Can't stop? Smoking less helps: Forty-year study shows benefit from reduction

More information: The full paper can be accessed here: aje.oxfordjournals.org/content … kwt038.full.pdf+html

The original two studies were: The Collaborative Study, which included 1,524 men and women smokers aged 40–65 years in a working population who were screened twice, in 1970–1973 and 1977; and the Renfrew/Paisley Study which included 3,730 men and women smokers aged 45–64 years in a general population who were screened twice, in 1972–1976 and 1977– 1979. Both groups were followed up through 2010.

Related Stories

Can't stop? Smoking less helps: Forty-year study shows benefit from reduction

November 19, 2012
Countless studies demonstrate the virtues of complete smoking cessation, including a lowered risk of disease, increased life expectancy, and an improved quality of life. But health professionals acknowledge that quitting ...

Can't quit smoking? Minimise harm by using nicotine-containing products instead

June 6, 2013
The University of Stirling's Professor Linda Bauld has been involved in developing new public health guidance for reducing tobacco-related harm when people feel unable to stop smoking in one step.

Women smokers who quit before 40 gain nine years in lifespan

October 27, 2012
Women can add nine years to their lives by quitting smoking before the age of 40 but still face a 20-percent higher death rate than those who never smoked, a study said Saturday.

Women smokers may have greater risk for colon cancer than men

April 30, 2013
Smoking increased the risk for developing colon cancer, and female smokers may have a greater risk than male smokers, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American ...

Study suggests reducing air-polluting PAHs may lower levels of lung cancer deaths

July 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—High emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be linked to lung cancer deaths in the United States and countries with a similarly high socioeconomic rank, including Canada, Australia, France, ...

Smoking takes 10 years off life expectancy in Japan, not 4 as previously thought, experts warn

October 26, 2012
Smoking reduces life expectancy by ten years in Japan, but much of the risk can be avoided by giving up smoking, a paper published on bmj.com today shows.

Recommended for you

Dulled taste may prompt more calories on path to obesity

July 28, 2017
Cornell University food scientists have found that people with a diminished ability to taste food choose sweeter - and likely higher-calorie - fare. This could put people on the path to gaining weight.

Artificial light from digital devices lessens sleep quality

July 28, 2017
There's no doubt we love our digital devices at all hours, including after the sun goes down. Who hasn't snuggled up with a smart phone, tablet or watched their flat screen TV from the comfort of bed? A new study by researchers ...

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.