Just 3 cigarettes a day is enough to trigger heart disease: women are particularly at risk.

Thursday 15 August 2002

ASH Press release: Embargo: 00.01 15th August 2002

Just 3 cigarettes a day is enough to trigger heart disease: women are particularly at risk.

Light smokers are still at risk of getting heart disease, even if they don’t inhale the smoke, a new study has found.  Women are particularly at risk, possibly because smoking interferes with the female hormone oestrogen which gives non-smoking pre-menopausal women some protection from heart disease. [1]


Commenting on the study,  ASH’s Research Manager, Amanda Sandford, said:


“There’s a common perception that smoking just a few cigarettes a day is not a danger to health but this study shows clearly that smoking as few as 3 cigarettes a day can be enough to trigger heart disease.   Many smokers also think that cutting down the number of cigarettes they smoke will reduce their risks but this study shows this belief to be false. [2]


“Smokers who are concerned about their health should aim to stop smoking completely and not be conned into thinking that cutting down will be enough to protect themselves from heart disease.”


“It is somewhat ironic that female light smokers appear to be particularly at risk from heart disease given that women overall have a much lower risk of heart disease than men.  Sadly, many  young women continue to smoke because of fears of putting on weight but the health risks from  weight gain after quitting smoking are miniscule in comparison with the health risks from smoking.”






[1] Prescott, E et al.  Importance of light smoking and inhalation habits on risk of myocardial infarction and all cause mortality.  A 22 year follow up of 12,149 men and women in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.  J Epidemiology and Community Health.  2002; 56: 702-706



[2]  See for example, “To cut down or to stop smoking.. is there any question?” a report by No Smoking Day. March 2001.  http://www.ash.org.uk/html/cessation/nsd2001.pdf



Contact:  Amanda Sandford:   020 7739 5902   ISDN available.