Heart attack risk high with one cigarette a day: study

Smoking just one cigarette a day still poses a high risk of heart attack (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 January 2018
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Heart attack risk high with one cigarette a day: study

Paris: Just one cigarette a day carries nearly half the risk for heart attack and stroke as smoking a full pack of 20, according to a large-scale study published Thursday.
“If someone smokes one cigarette instead of 20 per day, intuitively we’d think that the risk drops to 1/20, or five percent,” said lead author Allan Hackshaw, a professor at University College London, whose paper analyzed 141 previous studies.
“This seems to be the case for lung cancer, but is not true for heart attacks and stroke, where one cigarette per day carries around 50 percent of the risk of a pack a day,” he told AFP.
Smokers should not be fooled, in other words, into thinking that a few cigarettes a day — or even just one — carries little or no long term harm, he added.
“Whilst it is great that smokers try to cut down — and they should be positively encouraged to do so — in order to get the big benefits on cardiovascular disease they need to quit completely,” he said by email.
The findings were published in the medical journal BMJ.
Tobacco kills about seven million people worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization.
About two million of those deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, mainly coronary heart attacks and stroke.
Earlier research suggested that smoking a few cigarettes a day was linked to a higher-than-expected risk of heart disease, but findings were inconclusive.


To probe deeper, a team of scientists led by Hackshaw analyzed the results of 141 studies, estimating the relative risk of one, five or 20 cigarettes a day.
They found that men who lit up once a day had 46 percent of the excess risk of heart disease associated with smoking a full pack a day, much higher than expected. For strokes, the excess risk was 41 percent.
For reasons that are not fully understood, the risk for women was somewhat smaller — 31 and 34 percent, respectively.
“It could be a mixture of biological difference and differences in lifestyle,” said Hackshaw.
Overall, long-term smoking shortens life expectancy by 12-15 years.
“This well conducted study confirms what epidemiologists have suspected but few among the public have,” commented University of Oxford professor Paul Aveyard, who was not involved in the research.
“The implication is obvious — anyone who smokes should stop.”
At the same time, he added, it would be wrong to conclude that cutting down is useless.
“There is more reason to believe that lower cigarette consumption will reduce the risk of chronic lung disease and lung cancer, the other two big causes of early death from smoking,” he said via Britain’s Science Media Center.


Family favorites: Toto’s famous spaghetti and meatballs soup

Updated 21 May 2018
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Family favorites: Toto’s famous spaghetti and meatballs soup

This hearty dish is the middle point between spaghetti and meatballs and soup. It is a family favorite in my household, my kids love it and ask for seconds — and thirds sometimes! As any mother of picky eaters knows, this is a dream come true and I promise you, this soup will have your kids slurping from the bowl.

I was first introduced to this delicious meal by my mother-in-law, whom we affectionately call Toto, and ever since then, it’s become known as Toto’s famous spaghetti and meatballs soup in our home.

It is perfect for a satisfying iftar dish, so why not try it today?

 

Ingredients:

Store bought spaghetti (Toto makes hers from scratch. If you can do that, kudos to you, if not just use store bought spaghetti).

Two peeled potatoes cut into large cubes.

Half-a-pound of minced meat.

One onion, chopped finely.

Six ripe tomatoes and two  tablespoons of tomato paste.

Five garlic cloves, crushed.

A handful of chopped coriander leaves.

 

 Method:

Combine the tomatoes and tomato paste with one liter of water in a blender, with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture into a big pot on the stovetop and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to let it simmer.  

In a separate bowl, add the minced meat, onions and garlic, with a dash of salt and pepper. Mix until well incorporated and roll into small meatballs.

Cook the meatballs through in a sizzling, oiled pan. Transfer the meatballs into the pot with the simmering tomato soup.

Add the peeled potatoes that have been cut into chunks into the soup.

Let it cook for 10 minutes and add the spaghetti. Continue to cook the dish until the spaghetti is al dente and serve with a garnish of freshly chopped coriander leaves.