There’s not a lot of positive press about smoking cigarettes — in fact, there’s none at all. Most smokers are aware of the dangers of ingesting the chemicals found in cigarette smoke. But many, according to a recent study, think that if they take a multivitamin pill they can smoke more because the supplement protects them from the harmful effects of cigarettes. Not so, say researchers from Southern Taiwan University.
The researchers conducted a study that involved two experiments. In the first experiment, a group of 74 daily smokers were given a placebo pill, but half were told they were taking a vitamin C pill. After taking the pills, the smokers were allowed to smoke freely as they took an unrelated, hour-long survey.
The researchers discovered an interesting effect: smokers who thought they had taken vitamins smoked nearly twice as many cigarettes as those who knew that they took the placebo. They also reported having greater feelings of invincibility.
In the second experiment, 80 smokers were also given a placebo, with half being told they were taking a multivitamin. Afterwards, they were allowed to smoke while they took a survey, which contained questions about their attitudes towards multivitamins.
Again, the researchers found the same results. Smokers who took multivitamins smoked more. What’s more, those who reported believing in the health benefits of vitamins had a greater surge in their feelings of invincibility and smoked still more than those who were less optimistic about the vitamins’ effects.
The study’s authors concluded that health-conscious smokers who take vitamins may wrongly feel less vulnerable to the harmful effects of cigarettes. As a result, the researchers added, they may smoke more and increase their overall health risks.
This is certainly food for thought. Follow this health advice: don’t light up more often because you think vitamins will reduce your risk of cancer. Doing something “good” for your body doesn’t necessarily cancel out doing something harmful. Get your doctor’s advice about smoking cessation programs and continue to boost your nutritional health by eating fresh, healthy foods every day.