Smoking: Unsafe at any dose, from the Harvard Men's Health Watch

Published: May, 2012

Is smoking just a little bit, or only now and then, really a health problem? Yes, says the May issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch. Light and intermittent smoking are nearly as bad as heavy smoking.

The way doctors explain risk and smoking exposure may underplay the sizable risks of light smoking, giving some smokers false reassurance. Physicians traditionally quantify smoking in terms of "pack-years." In this system, smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for one year equals one pack-year. When doctors point out that the risks of smoking rise with increasing pack-years of exposure, patients may mistakenly assume that light smoking is minimally hazardous or even safe. A recent study shatters that illusion.

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