You may not be a smoker, but maybe sometimes you steal a cheeky toke.
Be warned: that one-off cigarette could be deadly.
According to a new study published this week, even social smoking increases your risk of brain bleeding.
And it is particularly dangerous for women.
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Women who smoked just one a day tripled their risk of brain bleeds compared to non-smokers
Brain bleeding is when blood bursts into the brain tissue, more often than not causing a brain hemorrhage or a stroke.
The research, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, tested 65,521 people in Finland.
They found that men and women who smoked were three times as likely to develop bleeding in the brain than their non-smoking peers.
Though the risk increased with the number of cigarettes smoked a day, occasional smoking still carried a significant risk.
Women who smoked just one a day tripled their risk of brain bleeds compared to non-smokers.
The figure is barely different to women smoking 20 a day, who had a 3.5-times higher risk of a brain hemorrhage.
Men are less prone to brain bleeds; male social smokers have double the risk of the potentailly fatal condition compared to men who don’t smoke.
Meanwhile men who smoke 20 a day have a 2.2-times higher risk, the study found.
Those who quit dramatically reduce their risk.
According to the study, patients had a far smaller risk after six months of abstaining.
But lead researcher Dr Joni Lindbohm of the University of Helsinki said that is no sure way of avoiding the fatal condition.
‘There is no safe level of smoking, and naturally, the best option isnever to start,’ he said.
‘The message for policymakers is that by implementing effective strategies against smoking, they can considerably reduce the burden of subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Brain bleeding is when blood bursts into the brain tissue, more often than not causing a brain hemorrhage or a stroke
The findings come days after another study that explored the link between drinking alcohol and an urge to light up.
Previous research has shown that smoking and drinking are linked – people associate lighting up with having a pint.
And new research by University College London showed that ex-smokers were likely to drink less – probably to avoid smoking.
‘Cigarette smoking and high blood pressure are two important modifiable risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage,’ Dr Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said.
‘This study adds more evidence to the call to the public to never smoke, and control their blood pressure to avoid this type of stroke.’