This is about controlling nicotine use for those who don’t want to quit – cutting down to a moderate level or, as recommended by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), switching from the serious risks of cigarettes to the relative safety of cigars or pipes – and about the benefits of smoking and coffee.
“Cigarette smokers who have difficulty in giving up smoking altogether are better off changing to cigars or pipes than continuing to smoke cigarettes. Much of the effect is due to the reduction in the quantity of tobacco smoked, and some is due to inhaling less.”
A survey of 521,330 persons in ten European countries concluded: “Coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes. This relationship did not vary by country.”
“Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study” Annals of Internal Medicine online 15/8/17
“An aircraft engineer who works for a large manufacturer of aircraft told me air quality has decreased since smoking was banned in planes. Seems when smoking was permitted they had to run AC systems flat out. Now they don’t and he said air quality had deteriorated. Sounds weird but that’s what he told me! Go figure.” (Guardian online comment 17/8/17)
The 1964 US Surgeon General’s report compares the standardized mortality ratio of cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers among men in 25 states. (“The standardized mortality ratio is the ratio of observed deaths in the study group to expected deaths in the general population.” – Wikipedia) If the ratio is 1.0, there is no difference between smokers and the general population. If it is more than 1.0, the smoker is more likely to die; if less, less likely.
Cigarettes only: 1.83
Cigars only: 0.97
Pipes only: 0.86
The Houston, Texas, suburb of Sugar Land hasn’t heard that news. A sign on the street in the shopping district advises:
“[A woman] who has now tried quitting six times said she measures her victories these days in smaller increments: cutting back to a pack every three days, holding out until after her morning cup of coffee to light up. ‘Do I ever think I’ll be able to quit?’ she said. ‘No. … But I’ll keep trying.’”
A pack every three days is seven cigarettes per day, an amount that some doctors say is not a serious risk. “In current smokers, the number of cigarettes smoked per day was the most important variable,” according to Lung Cancer International, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 790841.
A study of 185,855 African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites aged 45 to 75 found:
“Compared with drinking no coffee, coffee consumption was associated with lower total mortality after adjustment for smoking and other potential confounders. … Trends were similar between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.”
Annals of Internal Medicine online 11/7/17
(“Hazard Ratio” is similar to “Relative Risk”. A score of 1.0 would mean that coffee drinkers are as likely to die as non-coffee drinkers; lower than that, less likely to die. In this study, the HR for one cup of coffee per day was 0.88, 2-4 or more cups 0.82.)
“The associations of both overweight and obesity with higher all-cause mortality were broadly consistent in four continents. This finding supports strategies to combat the entire spectrum of excess adiposity in many populations.”
The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10046, p776–786, 20 August 2016
“Primary liver cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, and because of its poor prognosis the second leading cause of cancer death. … Coffee is a popular drink in most countries, with approximately 2.25 billion cups consumed daily. It is a complex mixture of biologically active molecules, including caffeine, chlorogenic acid and diterpenes. These compounds possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic and anticarcinogenic properties, which may explain the observational data that coffee drinkers have lower rates of chronic liver disease (CLD), including fibrosis, cirrhosis and HCC [Hepatocellular carcinoma]. … Increased consumption of caffeinated coffee and, to a lesser extent, decaffeinated coffee are associated with reduced risk of HCC, including in pre-existing liver disease. … In summary, this study has shown that an extra two cups of coffee per day is associated with a one-third reduction in the RR [Relative Risk] of HCC.”
The article repeatedly refers to “an extra two cups of coffee per day” without indicating how that relates to the total number of cups per day. A cup is 150ml in this study.
“Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis”
BMJ Open, Volume 7, Issue 5, May 2017
In an article in the Sunday Times (Australia) on 10 November 2016 – “Quitting smoking? 10 common myths busted” – one of the “common beliefs and misconceptions about smoking” is “Quitting smoking means gaining weight.” But the text contradicts that: “On average, female quitters will gain 2.8kg and men will gain 3.2kg.” Smokers who quit or cut down should be aware that they will have to take measures to prevent weight gain.
“Alzheimer’s is now acknowledged as the leading cause of death in the UK, responsible for more than 61,000 fatalities, according to the Office for National Statistics – a staggering 11.6 per cent of deaths.” (Sunday Telegraph 21/5/17)
“Cognitive improvement is one of the best-established therapeutic effects of nicotine. In human studies, nicotine improves performance in smokers on cognitively demanding attentional tasks.”
Neurology, 2012 Jan 10; 78(2): 91–101
“I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs.” – Albert Einstein, 1950
“A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinks like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan.” – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, Night and Morning
“If I had taken my doctor’s advice and quit smoking when he advised me to, I wouldn’t have lived to go to his funeral.” – George Burns, who died aged 100.
Smoking – even cigarettes – has been found to be a protection against the “non-smokers disease”, ulcerative colitis, and sarcoidosis. Also, several studies have reported a reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s Disease) among cigarette smokers and coffee drinkers: “… the risk of PD was found to be 60% lower among current cigarette smokers than among never smokers, and 30% lower among coffee drinkers than among non-drinkers.”
In 48 studies from 20 countries, results showed that for Parkinson’s current smokers had a Likelihood Ratio (LR) of 0.45 and a Relative Risk (RR) of 0.4. The LR for ever (former: minimum one pack/year) smokers was 0.8, with an RR of 0.75. Never users of tobacco had an LR of 1.25 and an RR of 1.25.
Caffeine has many health benefits. Coffee drinkers have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hepatitis C virus, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and infection.
Users of caffeine have a Likelihood Ratio (LR) of contracting Parkinson’s disease of 0.88. (Average is 1.0.) Non-use of caffeine (fewer than three coffees or six teas per week) gives an LR of 1.35, only slightly less than regular or very frequent exposure to pesticides at LR 1.5.
The Lancet (Lancet Neurol 2006; 5: 525–35)
For coffee drinkers “reduced risks were seen for cancers of the liver and uterine endometrium [the inner lining of the womb].”
“Cognitively normal older individuals who habitually consumed moderate amount of coffee (from 1 to 2 cups of coffee/day) had a lower rate of the incidence of MCI [Mild Cognitive Impairment] than those who never or rarely consumed coffee.”
However: “The amount of caffeine contained in energy drinks can range from 50 mg to 505 mg. Therefore, these beverages allow consumers to drink large quantities of caffeine in a relatively small number of servings. Research suggests that this level of consumption can produce Caffeine Intoxication, resulting in serious adverse health consequences and, in rare cases, death.”
A 16-year-old boy in the US died after drinking a latte, a caffeinated soft drink and an energy drink containing a total of 470mg of caffeine in less than two hours.
Nicotine has become so demonised that it’s being used as a bogeyman to frighten people into avoiding practices that are as bad as smoking if not worse!
And as we all know, sitting is the new smoking. (Guardian online 29/6/17)
[An American study of almost 35 million hospital records] “found that the odds of cannabis users developing acute coronary syndrome – including heart attacks and angina – was the same as for heavy cigarette smokers. American Heart Association medicines expert Professor Robert Page said he believed cannabis was ‘absolutely the new tobacco’ in terms of heart risk.” (Irish Mail on Sunday 6/11/22) “Heavy” smoking is currently defined as a pack of cigarettes a day or more.
“Diet is the number-one issue. More than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol, it contributes to more disease and death.” Doctor Aseem Malhotra, author of The Pioppi Diet: A 21-Day Lifestyle Plan.
“We’ve known that muscular strength is a predictor of longevity, and that weakness is a powerful indicator of disease and mortality, but, for the first time, we have found strong evidence of a biological link between muscle weakness and actual acceleration in biological age,” said Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., lead author of the study and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at University of Michigan. …
“Healthy dietary habits are very important, but I think regular exercise is the most critical thing that somebody can do to preserve health across the lifespan,” he said. “We can show it with a biomarker like DNA methylation age, and we can also test it with a clinical feature like grip strength.
“This suggests that if you maintain your muscle strength across the lifespan, you may be able to protect against many common age-related diseases. We know that smoking, for example, can be a powerful predictor of disease and mortality, but now we know that muscle weakness could be the new smoking.”
The Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. DOI: 10.1002/jcsm.13110
Also: “Junk food is the new tobacco.” “This study is further proof that obesity is the new smoking.” “Toxic air is killing more people than tobacco smoking.”
However: “The HR [hazard ratio] for cardiovascular disease mortality [due to lead exposure] was significantly larger for non-smokers than smokers.”
“The prevalence of UC [ulcerative colitis] was five-fold increased in patients from the Mormon Church in Britain and Ireland, where smoking is strongly discouraged, compared with that of the general population.”
“Causal associations [for Parkinson’s disease] include having a relative with Parkinson’s disease or tremor, constipation, and being a non-smoker, each at least doubling the risk of Parkinson’s disease.” The Lancet
“‘We need to de-demonize nicotine,’ said Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London. “Some studies show nicotine, like caffeine, can even have positive effects.”
This is a short Kindle ebook – 18,000+ words, the equivalent of a long magazine article or a very short novel.