Social Smoking Still Dangerous to Your Health..

October 14, 2008 - About 19% of the 45 million smokers in the U.S. can be considered occasional or social smokers. These occasional smokers often believe they are avoiding the health worries typically associated with smoking but new research shows that even these cigarette smokers can impair artery function, a sign of looming heart disease.

Lee Stoner et al.,Occasional Cigarette Smoking Chronically Affects Arterial Function, Ultrasound Medicine & Biology 2008. ABSTRACT

In a small study, researchers at the University of Georgia recruited 18 healthy college students, half of whom were nonsmokers. The other half were occasional smokers, puffing less than a pack a week and had not smoked for at least two days before undergoing testing. The study used ultrasound scans to measure how the students’ arteries responded to changes in blood flow. The study found that the arteries of occasional smokers were 36 percent less responsive to changes in blood flow than nonsmokers. And after the occasional smokers underwent the initial test, they smoked two cigarettes and had their arteries re-examined. The arterial responsiveness dropped by another 24 percent compared to before they smoked.

It was concluded that occasional smoking can impair flow-mediated dilation and found that repeated bouts of cigarette smoking — even if classified as occasional — appear to increase the risk for developing cardiovascular disease in otherwise healthy, young people. The decrease in arterial function can last into the next week, if not longer.

Reference: Social Smoking Takes a Lasting Toll, Credit:Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press, 10/8/2008.

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