By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is a classic study performed in Oslo and it holds up as a landmark report.

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The end result of the study is smokers who believe a few cigarettes a day don’t do any harm will need to think again.

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Scientists who studied the health records of 43,000 men and women have shown that smoking fewer than five cigarettes a day, commonly known as light smoking, triples the risk of dying of heart disease or lung cancer in men. In women the increased risk of lung cancer was five times greater.

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The researchers looked at a 32-year period, starting in 1970. Now, we already know that smokers die on average ten years earlier than non-smokers. But many have believed just a few cigarettes are harmless, and clearly we need to learn from that message that smoking is bad no matter what you do, and the quicker you cut it, the better.