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Low-intensity smokers are at increased risk of earlier death

Posted on December 05, 2016

People who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than never smokers, and those who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes a day had an 87 percent higher risk of earlier death than never smokers, according to a new study from researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Risks were lower among former low-intensity smokers compared to those who were still smokers, and risk fell with earlier age at quitting. The results of the study were reported December 5, 2016, in JAMA Internal Medicine. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

When researchers looked at specific causes of death among study participants, a particularly strong association was observed for lung cancer mortality. Those who consistently averaged less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had nine times the risk of dying from lung cancer than never smokers. Among people who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes per day, the risk of dying from lung cancer was nearly 12 times higher than that of never smokers.

The researchers looked at risk of death from respiratory disease, such as emphysema, as well as the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. People who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes a day had over six times the risk of dying from respiratory diseases than never smokers and about one and one-half times the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than never smokers.

Read the full press release at Cancer.gov.

Reference: Inoue-Choi M, Liao L, Reyes-Guzman C, Hartge P, Caporaso N, Freedman N. Association of long-term low-intensity smoking with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. JAMA Intern Med. December 5, 2016. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.7511.