Study Reveals Light Smoking May Cause As Much DNA Damage As Heavy Smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, it's estimated that there will be 236,740 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2022, as well as over 130,000 deaths. Men are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer, and Black men are 12% more likely to develop it in comparison to white men. Black women are 16% less likely than white women to develop lung cancer.

A study published on April 11 in Nature Genetics showed that smoking cigarettes causes lung cell mutations that are associated with lung cancer. Though this may not come as a surprise, what is particularly interesting is that the research showed this risk to be the same across the board regardless of whether the participant was a light or heavy smoker. The study was conducted on 33 participants comprised of 12 adults ages 18 to 86 with no smoking history, 2 teenagers with no smoking history, 7 former smokers, and 12 current smokers ages 44 to 81. Per Medical News Today, the smokers said they smoked between 5.6 and 116 pack-years of cigarettes, with one pack-year equating to 20 cigarettes per day for a year. The result was that people who smoked heavily had the same risk of developing mutations as smokers that did not. 

During the study, 14 of the 19 smokers were diagnosed with lung cancer, as was 1 nonsmoker.

How to quit smoking

When you've made the decision to quit smoking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one of the first things to do is get clear on why you want to quit. Are you aiming to be healthier, save money, look better, or have a better family life? Write your reasons down on paper and post it in a place where you're likely to see it often.

Next, anticipate your triggers and find healthy ways to respond to those triggers sans lighting up. For example, if you're known to grab a cigarette when you're stressed, overwhelmed, or just need a break from work, practicing breathwork may prove beneficial.

It's also a good idea to be aware of withdrawal symptoms. The CDC says craving cigarettes, feeling irritated, feeling restless, not being able to concentrate, having a hard time sleeping, feeling hungrier or gaining weight, and experiencing anxiety or sadness are common withdrawal symptoms. Over time, these symptoms will fade. Until then, make a plan on how to deal with the symptoms you're facing so that you don't give in.

For support, there are programs that can help you transition from someone who's trying to quit smoking to a true non-smoker. You can join a text message program by texting the word QUIT to 47848. If you have questions, visit to chat with a specialist who focuses specifically on quitting. LiveHelp specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time.