FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers who take a
multivitamin pill may think they can smoke more because the
supplement protects them from the harmful affects of cigarettes,
according to a new study.
Researchers found that some people who smoke mistakenly believe
the vitamins will reduce their risk of cancer, allowing them to
light up more often. The study noted that such trading of a
virtuous behavior for a subsequent indulgence, known as the
"licensing effect," could undermine smokers' urge to kick the
"Smokers who take dietary supplements can fool themselves into thinking they are protected against cancer and other diseases. Reminding health-conscious smokers that multivitamins don't prevent cancer may help them control their smoking or even encourage them to stop," said the study's lead author, Wen-Bin Chiou in a journal news release.
The study, published online Aug. 2 in the journal
Addiction, involved two experiments. In the first experiment, a group of 74 daily smokers were given a placebo (dummy) 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.
Researchers found the smokers who thought they had taken
vitamins smoked nearly twice as many cigarettes than those who knew
they took the placebo. They also reported having greater feelings
In the second study, 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.
Not only did those who took multivitamins smoke more, but 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'
The study's authors concluded 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, increasing their overall health risks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
how to quit smoking.