Social smokers' risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol is identical to that of those who light up every day, according to research from Ohio State University surveying 39,555 smokers between 2010 and 2012, 10% of whom considered themselves social smokers.
Smoking is a known risk factor for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which are major contributors to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death of men and women worldwide.
Although keeping cigarettes as a guilty pleasure for occasional social situations (bars, parties, etc.) may be good for your conscience, it may not be any better for your health in the long term, the study reports.
The researchers found that social smokers -- defined as those who do not smoke cigarettes daily, but who smoke in certain social situations regularly -- had the same cardiovascular risks as regular smokers when comparing blood pressure and cholesterol in the two groups.
Irrespective of how regularly they smoked, 75% of participants had high blood pressure and roughly 54 percent had high cholesterol.
Social smokers in the study were more likely to be younger (between 21 and 40 years old), male and Hispanic. The researchers also point out that many social smokers don't even consider themselves smokers.
As a result, the researchers suggest that clinical intervention can be useful to identify social smokers and prevent them from becoming completely addicted and developing an everyday habit.
The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
The study is available here: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0890117117706420