Some people think that occasional cigarette smoking or smoking just a single cigarette in a day is harmless but findings of a new research have shown that extremely light smoking can still increase a person's risk of dying early.

Risk Of Light Smoking

The researchers looked at the data of more than 290,000 Americans between 59 and 82 years old to evaluate the risks that come with light smoking, or smoking 10 or less cigarettes daily.

Findings show that people who consistently smoked an average of less than one stick of cigarette daily over the course of their lifetime have 64 percent increased chances of dying early compared with those who had never smoked. The risk for early death increases to 87 percent for individuals who puffed between one and 10 cigarettes in a day.

Maki Inoue-Choi, from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, said that the results of their study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Dec. 5, show that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure.

One problem with light smokers is that they do not often consider themselves as real smokers.

"When asked if they smoke, they will often respond that they do not," said Patricia Folan, from the Center for Tobacco Control.

Inoue-Choi added that smoking cessation would be beneficial for all smokers regardless of the number of cigarettes that they smoke.

"These findings provide further evidence that there is no safe level of cigarette smoking. All smokers should be targeted for smoking cessation, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke per day," the researchers wrote in their study.

Never Too Early Nor Too Late To Stop Smoking

The study likewise showed that it is neither too early nor too late to stop smoking. The results showed the the odds for early death was lower for former light smokers compared with those who remained light smoker. Those who quit smoking at a younger age were also found to have lower risk for early death.

Increased Risk Of Dying From Lung Cancer, Heart Disease And Respiratory Diseases

The risk of dying because of lung cancer was nine times higher in those who smoked less than one cigarette a day compared with those who never smoked. Those who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes per day had 12 times increased risk.

Those who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes daily had six times increased risk of dying from respiratory diseases such as emphysema and 1.5 times more likely to die from heart disease compared with those who never smoked.

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