Background. There have been several recent reports of differences in the diet of smokers versus that of nonsmokers. This has broad implications for assessment of disease risk associated with diet or smoking. Methods. We examined dietary fats for several categories of smoking status in a large cross-sectional data set. The annual risk factor survey of a cardiovascular disease prevention trial in three pairs of upper Midwest communities includes 3,495 subjects ranging in age from 24 to 75. Smoking was assessed by self-report and thiocyanate, and diet by the Willett questionnaire. Dietary comparisons of smokers, recent quitters, long-term (over 1 year) quitters, and never-smokers were conducted. Results. Previous findings of lower polyunsaturated fat intake in smokers were confirmed and extended by finding significantly elevated polyunsaturate intake among those who had quit smoking within the last year. The source of these differences is unclear, but the differences are large enough to constitute a significant contribution to disease risk for smokers or a protective effect for recent quitters. Conclusions. Future research examining risks associated with smoking or diet should control for the interaction of the two factors. The dietary differences in recent quitters, whether caused by a conscious decision to improve diet, a change in taste perception as a result of quitting, or simply the habits of those smokers who are able to quit, need further exploration.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
i Supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Grant NIH ROl HL 25523. ’ To whom reprint requests should be addressed at Department of preventive and Societal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 600 South 42nd Street, Omaha, NB 68198.
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