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Benefits of reducing smoking

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American Journal of Epidemiology DOI:10.1093/aje/kwr466

Reducing smoking - rather than quitting - improves survival rates, according to Israeli researchers who stratified 4,633 male smokers aged, on average, 51 years, into four categories: none; 1-10; 11-20; and at least 21 cigarettes daily.

Over a median follow up of 26 years and after adjusting for confounders, mortality rose by 14 per cent in men who increased consumption by at least one category compared to those whose smoking habits remained constant.

Mortality declined by 15 per cent in those who reduced their intake and by 22 per cent in those who quit smoking.

The adjusted likelihood of surviving to 80 years of age worsened by 23 per cent in men who increased consumption, but improved by 22 per cent in those who reduced intake and by 33 per cent in those who quit.

Smoking reduction produced the most marked benefits among heavy smokers and on cardiovascular mortality. The authors suggest considering decreasing smoking intensity in heavy smokers who cannot quit abruptly.

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