Are you a social smoker? Casual smokers may think a few puffs a week are nothing to worry about, but new research in the U.S. claims having even an infrequent cigarette, or being exposed to second-hand smoke, could be doing more harm than people believe.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, exposure to low levels of cigarette smoke may put people at risk for lung disease in the future.
The findings show even low levels of smoke exposure can cause irreparable damage to cells essential to breathing, and can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even lung cancer.
How much exposure might damage airway cells?
Researchers found that if they could detect nicotine in the urine they could also detect changes in the genes in the cells lining the airways. They say there is no level of cigarette smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke that does not make the cells in your lungs sick. The bottom line: If you are an occasional smoker you are still at risk. As for secondhand smoke, make sure you are not exposed to it.