All forms of tobacco use increase risk of heart attack, worldwide study finds.

Friday 18 August 2006

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01 Friday 18th August 2006


All forms of tobacco use increase risk of heart attack, worldwide study finds

A major study across 52 countries has shown that using any form of tobacco increases the risk of heart attack by up to three times. [1] The study published in today’s Lancet examined the risk of heart attack from using various forms of tobacco (both smoked and smokeless) as well as exposure to secondhand smoke.  The authors found that people who smoked tobacco in any form including sheesha (waterpipe) and bidis (small hand-rolled cigarettes) had a three-fold increased risk of a heart attack compared to non-smokers.  People who chewed tobacco had twice the risk compared to non-smokers.


The researchers also found that exposure to secondhand smoke increased the risk of heart attack in both former smokers and non-smokers.  Those with the highest level of exposure may increase their risk of heart attack by 45%.


The importance of this study is that, until now, most of the research on the risks of tobacco use has been conducted in developed countries where cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use.    Little was known about the risks of other forms of tobacco, commonly used in developing countries.



Amanda Sandford, Research Manager of ASH said:


“This important study shows that even small amounts of tobacco use can have a devastating  health impact.  Millions of people are suffering heart attacks because they have smoked or  chewed tobacco or have been exposed to other people’s smoke.


If current trends persist about 1 billion people will die of tobacco-related conditions in this century. Most of these deaths will be in poorer nations where there are few resources to combat the tobacco epidemic. This study highlights the need for the rapid implementation of the global treaty on tobacco control (FCTC). This will assist  poorer nations in establishing the infrastructure to help people to quit and prevent young people from ever using tobacco.”



Notes and links:

[1]  Teo, KK et al. Tobacco use and risk of myocardial infarction in 52 countries in the INTERHEART study: a case-control study.  The Lancet 2006; 368: 647-658

[2] The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the first global health treaty. It sets minimum standards for a range of tobacco control measures and obliges developed countries to help poorer nations establish tobacco control systems.


Contact: Amanda Sandford  020 7739 5902 (w)  ISDN available