Cutting back on cigarettes doesn’t reduce risks

By • Published: February 23rd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Cold turkey may be the best way to quit after all.

That’s probably not the news most smokers want to hear, but Norwegian researchers recently reported that quitting is the only way to begin repairing the damage smoking inflicts on a person’s health.

Even cutting back on cigarettes by half doesn’t help reduce the risk of an early death from lung cancer or heart disease. The Norwegian study shows that heavy smokers and smokers who cut back still had the same chance of dying from one of these diseases, even after twenty years.

But there’s still good news for smokers who do decide to rein in the number of puffs they take each day. A team of researchers from several U-S medical schools discovered that most smokers who cut back actually end up quitting.

Smoking-related illnesses lead to one of every five deaths in the United States each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, smokers die about seven years earlier than nonsmokers. They also are more apt to develop not just lung cancer but several types of cancer, as well as heart disease and respiratory problems.

Quitting may be easier said than done for some, but experts say not to give up. Quitting takes some people a few tries. It’s also best to avoid situations where people are smoking to avoid temptation.

It won’t be easy, but for smokers, quitting could be the only way to win.