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Occasional Smoking

Commented on March 04, 2014
Created February 27, 2014 at 10:29 PM

I quit smoking about 3 years ago after stopping/starting 3 times. I'm now at the point where the thought of smoking repulses me... until i have alcohol. When i've had a good few to drink (two to four times a month) i have 1 or 2 cigarettes. Yes i know it's stupid & please don't advise me that there's no such thing as one or two cigarettes. I've been doing this for roughly 14 months now & still have no desire to even smell smoke when i haven't consumed alcohol. My question is... although i'm not constantly poisoning myself with twenty a day like i used to, how harmful are a few cigarettes a month?? I listened to a Robb Wolf podcast (102 i think) & he suggested that the odd smoke shouldn't really have any negative impact on health & he even went on to say it could even have a hormetic effect. Any thoughts on this guys?? Thanks in advance for any good info.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 04, 2014
at 01:02 AM

Even if were 1-2 a month (which if this is the point of contention would be nice to actual examine), it would contradict your logarythmic curve that you mention below, if they get basically no heart disease or stroke, rather than still have increased risk.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 04, 2014
at 01:00 AM

Something that always amused me about smoking studies, as an aside, is that smokers tend a) to eat poorly b) to not exercise. Established factors in both cancer and heart disease. And yet, having established this in many studies, people still do not control for these known health risk factors in smoking studies. It's almost like they subconciously want to control badly. Indeed the kitivans above, whether they smoke 1/month or 1/day, make me even more curious, what would happen if you controlled for other lifestyle factors, which no one has ever done.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 04, 2014
at 12:56 AM

Yeah that confuses me a lot. the 10 or less a day studies had much greater reductions in heart disease for example (over 1-2 packs a day). And there's quite a few of those studies. So how could 1/day be worse than 10/day? Color me puzzled.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 04, 2014
at 12:53 AM

That contradicts the 10/day studies I read, which had much greater reductions. Also, I tried googling that in the past, and never found anything below 8 or 10 a day. Care to share the studies, so we can have a look? (or just the summary/abstract?)

De1095b2ba29c1035f00428cbfe3cc7c

(777)

on March 03, 2014
at 05:27 PM

I have the same thing, the taste is disgusting to me now so i don't smoke anymore, the thought of it alone repells me, but after a drink or two I can have a ciggie which tastes fine & is enjoyable. I noticed when I smoked daily I hardly ever brought up phlegm, when I smoke once a week the next day I tend to bring up dark brown phlegm, which obviously puts me off smoking, but at least my bodies purging it out I guess...

De1095b2ba29c1035f00428cbfe3cc7c

(777)

on March 03, 2014
at 05:23 PM

'Never had a heart attack'?

More like they don't have the means to ascertain cause of death accurately

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 05:20 PM

I thought it was a herbal mixture -- not just tobacco?

Also, wasn't the life expectancy less than 50? That certainly contributes to the likelihood of CVD --- Now I need to go back and reread the study.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 03, 2014
at 04:23 PM

No, I meant "a contributing cause". If you, say, have a leaky gut, inflammation all over your body, smoking will be worse.

If it is true that they were smoking biweekly (and it is my guess, but they too were smoking Marlboro or some such) that just means that light smoking is of no concern. I met plenty of long-lived light smokers.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:24 PM

The Lindeberg Kitava study found that Kitava's were daily smokers. This turned out to be a reporting bias as the Kitava were "celebrating". Subsequent studies show most Kitava smoke between once and twice per month. Also, what the Kitava's are smoking, and what american's smoke is not equivalent.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:19 PM

They are just observational studies, and the confounding factors were not regressed (i.e. one study showed that occasional smokers inhale deeper and thus extract more tar/nicotine/etc.

But it's clear, there is not a hormetic level.

We all have our vices, my opinion is do not try to pretend you're not causing harm.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:16 PM

I just did a quick lit search, and found 12 studies of people who smoke fewer than 1 cigarette per day. 11 of the 12 studies show a logarithmic growth function in everything except all-death mortality. The other study suggested an exponential growth, but was pretty low statistics.

Lung cancer, CVD, and CPD all had about a 15% reduction in risk over the pack/day group. Whereas the non-smoker group had a 140% reduction.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:21 AM

IMO better not to smoke at all (e-cigs are pretty benign, as an alternative). But im just saying that if 10/day significantly lowers all risk factors, then 1/month....well it could be insignificant, and indeed we'd expect it to be, based on the curves.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:18 AM

If your smoking 1-2 a month, based on the curves, we might guess the risk is very very low, even stastically insignificant in studies. It may even decrease your odds, like the carcinogenic chemicals in fruit and veg do (I would guess not, but who knows). Which is not the impression people are given of smoking (ie the science departs from the social taboo). Second hand smoke is overrated. Only studies showing negative effects are from repeated lifetime exposure. Thats the sort of freaking out that people should probably rationally stop doing.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:17 AM

Well, thats a level of risk that (at 10 per day or less mind), is actually cancelled by other healthy life factors, based on the pure stats. 1/100 is the non-smokers level of risk, so its already quite high. Personally i'd rather have no odds of lifetime heart disease, but the point is that is much less than those who smoke more than ten - reducing the amount does reduce the risk.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:08 AM

This is interesting

Medium avatar

(20)

on March 03, 2014
at 01:26 AM

@Glib - did you mean to say, "you will figure out that smoking is not a contributing cause".?

C4deaa6bb01626b4569e8992890381ab

(925)

on March 02, 2014
at 05:31 PM

Thanks very much Drael. Great answer.

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4 Answers

best answer

0
8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on February 28, 2014
at 12:12 AM

The risks do go down with frequency, that I know. Unpopular fact, but its true. Under 10 per day, and your risk of heart disease is only double that of normal (2 in 100 instead of 1 in 100). Cancer is also lower. Unfortunately, because of the dogma, nobody has studied lower intakes. It would be revealing to see what 1/day does, or 1/week, or 1/month.

I can only presume that the collective risks continue to go down, without entirely disappearing. Thats an assumption though, and I really don't know. Healthy diet and lifestyle may mitigate some risk also, according to studies.

C4deaa6bb01626b4569e8992890381ab

(925)

on March 02, 2014
at 05:31 PM

Thanks very much Drael. Great answer.

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 04:10 AM

so doubling your risk of heart disease is only a small risk? Seems pretty large to me.

Add in the fact that you are surrounded by second-hand smoke.

Doesn't some hormetic to me

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:17 AM

Well, thats a level of risk that (at 10 per day or less mind), is actually cancelled by other healthy life factors, based on the pure stats. 1/100 is the non-smokers level of risk, so its already quite high. Personally i'd rather have no odds of lifetime heart disease, but the point is that is much less than those who smoke more than ten - reducing the amount does reduce the risk.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:18 AM

If your smoking 1-2 a month, based on the curves, we might guess the risk is very very low, even stastically insignificant in studies. It may even decrease your odds, like the carcinogenic chemicals in fruit and veg do (I would guess not, but who knows). Which is not the impression people are given of smoking (ie the science departs from the social taboo). Second hand smoke is overrated. Only studies showing negative effects are from repeated lifetime exposure. Thats the sort of freaking out that people should probably rationally stop doing.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 09:21 AM

IMO better not to smoke at all (e-cigs are pretty benign, as an alternative). But im just saying that if 10/day significantly lowers all risk factors, then 1/month....well it could be insignificant, and indeed we'd expect it to be, based on the curves.

0
Medium avatar

on March 03, 2014
at 03:54 AM

I think the fear that smoking a few cigarettes a month could badly affect your health is way more dangerous than the fact of smoking. Relax, man! ;-)

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 02, 2014
at 09:58 PM

If you look at Kitava, where 77 percent of the people smoke, and no one ever had a heart attack, you will figure out that smoking is a contributing cause. The driving factors of diseases of civilization are other.

8b9c2dcd3dfc929a0428d3d6dac4918e

(70)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:08 AM

This is interesting

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 03, 2014
at 04:23 PM

No, I meant "a contributing cause". If you, say, have a leaky gut, inflammation all over your body, smoking will be worse.

If it is true that they were smoking biweekly (and it is my guess, but they too were smoking Marlboro or some such) that just means that light smoking is of no concern. I met plenty of long-lived light smokers.

De1095b2ba29c1035f00428cbfe3cc7c

(777)

on March 03, 2014
at 05:23 PM

'Never had a heart attack'?

More like they don't have the means to ascertain cause of death accurately

Medium avatar

(20)

on March 03, 2014
at 01:26 AM

@Glib - did you mean to say, "you will figure out that smoking is not a contributing cause".?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 03, 2014
at 02:24 PM

The Lindeberg Kitava study found that Kitava's were daily smokers. This turned out to be a reporting bias as the Kitava were "celebrating". Subsequent studies show most Kitava smoke between once and twice per month. Also, what the Kitava's are smoking, and what american's smoke is not equivalent.

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