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Social smokers face same risks as regular smokers

So-called social smokers who only light up on special occasions may have some of the same risks for heart disease as people with a daily cigarette habit, a US study suggests.

For the study, researchers examined data on smoking habits, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure for a nationally representative sample of 39,555 adults. Most people said they didn’t smoke, while roughly 17 percent were current smokers and about 10 percent were social smokers who didn’t have a daily habit but did regularly smoke in certain situations.

Compared with non-smokers, social smokers were more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure – known as hypertension – and 53 percent more likely to have elevated cholesterol, the study found. Social smokers had the roughly the same odds of having these risk factors for heart disease as current smokers in the study.

“These results provide strong evidence that smoking, regardless of amount, is an even stronger indicator of cardiovascular risk than previously thought,” said lead study author Kate Gawlik, a researcher at the Ohio State University College of Nursing in Columbus. (Reuters)