And How Much Meat and Dairy Are Safe to Eat?
Will smokers get much benefit from a resolution to smoke fewer cigarettes, as an alternative to quitting altogether? Decades of global research on tobacco use show cutting down on cigarette use is a positive step, but the health impact is not nearly as strong as you may expect.
For example, research in Norway found that smoking just one to four cigarettes a day increased the risk of death during the timeframe of the study by about 50%. An American Cancer Society study found that one to three cigarettes daily increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 64%.
The Surgeon General's 2010 report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, outlines 7,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. These substances, which include cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, fine particulate matter, and poison gases, reach every cell in your body when you breathe smoke. These substances interact with each other to produce illness, disability, and death - and it does not take much of these substances to do this. Major mechanisms of tobacco harm include damaging DNA and causing inflammation and oxidative stress.
So think of what happens if you smoke one cigarette every day. Your body is being deeply injured by 7,000 chemicals. As soon as the tobacco exposure stops, your body starts the healing process, but it can't repair all the damage in 24 hours. The next day, the chemical assault happens again. Once more, your body rushes to heal, but does not get very far before being bombarded again with poisons. Thus the damage accumulates, and you suffer disease and early death.
What About Cutting Down on Animal Foods?
The damage from even one cigarette is now obvious. What if you aren't concerned with smoking, but decide for health reasons to cut back on the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs you eat? Perhaps you have seen the evidence that supports the health benefits of plant-based diets, and the power of animal foods to cause chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. So you decide to go for "moderation" in eating animal foods, just like some tobacco users opt for moderation in cigarette use.
There are two major questions you need to think about in seeing if this strategy will work for you:
- Is it possible to eat small amounts of animal foods and still be healthy?
- What amount of animal foods in your diet leads to optimal health and well-being?