Thursday, December 6, 2007

What Five Cigarettes A Day Does To Your Arteries

Many smokers feel that "cutting down" or being a "light smoker" will prevent them from suffering the often deadly consequences of smoking. Experts say that close to a third of all smokers smoke less than ten cigarettes a day. Research shows that these "light smokers" feel much less motivation to give it up.

As Lion Shahab, a health psychologist at UCL puts it, smokers are good at perceiving a general risk to health but don't apply it to their own - with light smokers the most deluded of all.

"It's the difference between looking at a virtual reality image of a tiger - you may be amazed but you won't run away - and being told the tiger is real, in which case your emotional response is to run.

"Most smokers are good at seeing the virtual reality tiger but not the real one."

But, as Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at UCL, points out, smoking is one area of consumption where moderation is not the answer.

While the risk of lung cancer grows with the number of cigarettes smoked - more than 20 cigarettes a day raises the risk 30-fold - in terms of heart disease, recent research suggests most of the risks come from the first few cigarettes each day.

A study of Norwegian smokers published last year found that those who smoked up to five cigarettes a day were three times more likely to die of heart disease than non-smokers.

University College London is conducting research to see just how much damage has been done to the arteries of people after years of light smoking.

Click Here to read one woman's' story of her participation in this research project and the sobering results that led her to becoming completely smoke free.