That?s what a lot of people think. After all, what can be so harmful about smoking just one or two cigarettes a day? "Plenty!" says a recently published 30-year study of nearly 43,000 people.
According to the study, if you smoke from one to four cigarettes a day, you?re tripling your risk for heart disease and lung cancer. Especially if you?re a woman.
In fact, when it came to lung cancer, women who smoked up to four cigarettes a day had a 47% increased risk of dying from lung cancer than women who never smoked. This is a huge wake-up call. But that?s not all. So-called "light" smokers also had a higher death rate from all causes than non-smokers. The more they smoked daily, the more cigarettes shortened their lives.
Now, I know it isn?t easy to stop smoking. But if you?ve been limiting your smoking to social occasions or after dinner or sex, it should be easier to change this habit than if you smoke a pack a day. Use a patch. Try hypnotherapy. See a therapist who uses EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR has been used successfully for the alleviation of post traumatic stress disorder. It?s a rather quick way of reprogramming your emotional responses. I?ve seen it work well with people who wanted to stop smoking, but couldn?t on their own.
Increase your exercise. Concentrate on eating a healthy diet. Chew on toothpicks or pieces of a cinnamon stick. Do whatever it takes, but stop smoking today.
It?s time to stop fooling yourself. Just smoking one or two cigarettes a day will not only shorten your life, it will most likely affect your quality of life as you age. We go through life hearing a lot of misinformation about our health. If you?re looking for the latest information on how to get and stay well, based on good scientific studies, you?ll want to read Women?s Health Letter each month. To order, simply call 800-728-2288 or visit my website: www.womenshealthletter.com. Once you subscribe, you?ll have free access to all my back issue and the easy-to-use search tool. It?s one of the best health bargains around.
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Dr. Janet Zand
"Health consequences of smoking 1-4 cigarettes per day," Tobacco Control, 20005; 14: 315-20.