"You can eat five portions of fruit and veg a day and exercise regularly, but healthy behaviour means little if you continue to smoke" (NetDoctor).
"There are many things we can do to lower our chances of developing cancer such as not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy balanced diet, being physically active and staying safe in the sun." (Cancer Research UK, Daily Telegraph, April 7, 2010).
Now, I'm no doctor (as I'm sure you know) but I can't help recalling the words of the late Dr Ken Denson of the Thame Thrombosis and Haemostasis Research Foundation in Oxfordshire who was adamant that if you enjoy a healthy diet, keep yourself physically fit and smoke moderately (less than ten cigarettes a day), the risk to your health is significantly reduced and you may be at no more at risk than those who do NOT smoke, eat "unhealthily" and get little or no regular exercise (ie people like me).
His exact words, in an article circa 2005, were:
The greatest ill effects from smoking are for heavy smokers of two and three packs a day. Risks are much lower for light smokers. Studies on lung cancer and heart disease have shown that for those who smoke ten a day or less, the risks are very much lower. In a study on female British doctors there was no increased risk for heart disease or lung cancer in those smoking one to 14 cigarettes per day ...
The problem is, the medical and political establishment isn't interested in promoting this message. All they want you to hear is: quit smoking or die. And that, perhaps, is why the message falls on so many deaf ears because most of us can point to people who smoke who appear, in general, to be perfectly fit and healthy.
PS. If I remember rightly, Dr Denson smoked from the age of 15 and was in his early eighties when he died three years ago. Of course, if he hadn't smoked he would still be alive today. Well, that's what they would like us to believe.