Anyone who reflects upon the matter would agree that the earlier exposure to a cumulative health risk begins, the earlier its effects will be felt. A new Oxford University study clearly supports that conclusion in regard to smoking.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, surveyed just under 14,000 heart attack survivors in Great Britain and some 32,400 of their relatives.
After analyzing the ages at which the sample’s smokers took up the habit, the Oxford researchers found that the smokers who began earlier were especially likely to suffer an early heart attack.
Individuals between age 30 and 49 were at a five times greater risk of heart attack than their non-smoking peers; those between 50 and 59 had three times the risk; and those between 60 and 79 double the risk. Researchers concluded that the increased risk is greater among smokers under 50 because they have not lived long enough for other risk factors, like genetic predisposition to heart attack or the effects of a high fat diet to begin taking their tolls.
Researchers also divided the smokers in the study into two groups, those smoking regular and those smoking “low-tar” cigarettes. The difference in heart attack rates between those groups, the researchers said, is “trivial.”
The researchers concluded that the teenage years are the most potentially damaging for anyone to begin smoking, underscoring the value of efforts to especially discourage the marketing of cigarettes to the young.
It’s worth noting that the British smokers felled by their habit were, by comparison to a great many American smokers, a relatively restrained lot, consuming between 10 and 30 cigarettes a day.