NEW YORK — Medical research is beginning to reveal a little-known side effect of smoking: It can actually help you live longer.
The result is a more balanced, healthful lifestyle and, hopefully, better quality of life.
The Mayo Clinic has found that people who smoke and smoke in moderation — say, once a week or once a month — have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study included 2,097 people who were either regular smokers or current smokers, as well as 2,027 people who had never smoked.
The researchers also tracked people’s blood pressure, body weight, blood cholesterol and other markers for several years.
“The results of our study suggest that smoking, as a lifestyle, might have health benefits, even if we do not yet know whether they translate into a benefit for people with cardiovascular disease,” study researcher and Mayo Clinic cardiologist Steven A. R. Gershman, M.D., Ph.
D. said in a statement.
In other words, if you quit smoking and have no signs of a heart attack or stroke, you might be able to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
That might sound like a win-win situation, but it’s not always the case.
In a recent study published in JAMA Cardiology, the researchers found that smokers who were regular smokers were significantly less likely to die from heart disease than those who were current smokers.
The findings suggest that quitting smoking may be a healthy way to manage your risk for cardiovascular disease, Dr. Gelsinger said.
But smoking in moderation can still be dangerous.
Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.
If you’re not careful, it can cause heart attack, stroke or death, and smoking can also increase your risk in people with existing heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that people keep smoking under 12 packs a day, even when they are not getting high.