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Dr. C. Joseph Bennett, Navigating Cancer, 01/01/13

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Smoking ups cardiac death in women

By Dr. C. Joseph Bennett

As we begin a new year, we all have many things to be thankful for. And many of us, including myself, will make New Year’s resolutions that will improve our overall health.

Over the years, I have discussed on many occasions that controlling our weight, exercising, and avoiding tobacco products could make the greatest impact on life expectancy.

Now there is even more data supporting this claim regarding the risk of smoking, and it is not cancer related.

New research data now shows that for women without coronary heart disease (CHD) early in life, smoking, even in small quantities, is associated with a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). This is based upon research recently published online Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

In this study, researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, prospectively examined the link between cigarette smoking and smoking cessation on the risk of SCD among 101,018 women from the Nurses’ Health Study without CHD, stroke, or cancer at baseline in 1980.

During 30 years of follow-up, the researchers identified 351 SCD events. After controlling for coronary risk factors, current smokers had a significant increased risk of SCD compared with those who had never smoked at all.

Among current smokers, the quantity of cigarettes smoked daily and smoking duration were significantly linked to SCD risk in their analysis. The risk of SCD was significantly increased even with small-to-moderate amounts of cigarette consumption (one to 14 per day) and with every five years of continued smoking.

After quitting, there was a steady and marked decrease in the risk of SCD over time, and after 20 years of cessation, the risk was equivalent to that of a person who had never smoked.

It is clear that there is a relationship between smoking and SCD, and even small-to-moderate quantities of daily smoking were associated with SCD risk. This adds even more fuel to the fire of doubling our efforts toward smoking cessation for all women to prevent SCD.

Dr. C. Joseph Bennett is a board-certified radiation oncologist and a member of the Citrus County Unit of the American Cancer Society. Watch “Navigating Cancer” on WYKE TV at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and at 10 a.m. Thursdays. If you have any suggestions for topics, or have any questions, contact him at 522 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, or email cjbennett@rboi.com.