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

July 4, 2013, University of Glasgow

(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

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

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.