No Such Thing As Light Smoking; The Lung Damage Is Just the Same

People who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day too cause long-term damage to their lungs, according to a new research.

"“Many people assume that smoking a few cigarettes a day isn’t so bad, but it turns out that the difference in loss of lung function between someone who smokes five cigarettes a day versus two packs a day is relatively small.”" - Elizabeth Oelsner, The study’s lead author and Assistant Professor at Columbia University Vagelos College

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For the study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the researchers looked specifically at lung function--the amount of air a person can breathe in and out--in smokers, ex-smokers, and never-smokers.

Lung function declines naturally with age (starting in one’s 20s), and it’s well-known that smoking accelerates the decline.

Because of the large number of people in the study--more than 25,000-- researchers could see differences in lung function among light smokers (less than 5 cigarettes per day) and heavy smokers (more than 30 per day) that other studies have been unable to detect.

Their analysis found that lung function in light smokers declines at a rate much closer to that of heavy smokers, as compared to non-smokers.

This means that a light smoker could lose about the same amount of lung function in one year as a heavy smoker might lose in nine months.

The study also tested an assumption, based on a 40-year-old study, that the rate of decline in lung capacity "normalises" within a few years of quitting smoking.

The new study shows that although lung capacity declines at a much lower rate in ex-smokers than current smokers, the rate doesn’t normalise for at least 30 years.

According to the researchers, light smokers may have a greater risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by FIT.)

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