Background: Atherosclerosis and COPD are systemic inflammatory diseases that share common risk factors including cigarette smoking. A high level of nicotine dependence is emerging as a recently identified risk factor for pulmonary impairment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tobacco-related cancers. We hypothesized that nicotine dependence is associated with the risk of atherosclerosis in long-term cigarette smokers. Methods: A nested case-control study was conducted within the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial- American College of Radiology Imaging Network. Cases were defined as having a new diagnosis of any type of atherosclerosis. Controls were matched on a 2:1 basis by age, sex, race, study center, smoking status, years of smoking, and frequency of smoking. Dependence was measured by the time to first cigarette after awakening (TTFC). Results: The study included 166 cases and 286 controls. Compared to participants who smoked within 5 min after waking, the risk of atherosclerosis for participants who smoked an hour or more after waking was borderline non-significant (odds ratio = 0.49, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.23, 1.00). Findings were similar for men and women. For aortic atherosclerosis, the corresponding odds ratio was 0.24 (95% CI 0.08, 0.69). Hypertension was associated with an increased risk and body mass index was associated with a decreased risk of aortic atherosclerosis. The TTFC was unrelated to coronary atherosclerosis. Conclusions: Compared to smoking immediately after waking, delaying an hour or more reduces the risk of aortic atherosclerosis even among long-term heavy smokers. Possible mechanisms that explain this association are intensity of smoking, inflammation and oxidative stress, and elevated lipid levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health