"Safe" Cigarettes No Longer Safe
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, USA--As recently as 1994, the senior executives of seven tobacco companies stood before a congressional subcommittee and swore that they did not believe nicotine was addictive. The companies' own internal documents, made public in
Researchers at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center have found that the metabolization of nicotine produces a substance that is a precursor to the tobacco-specific lung carcinogen NNK. The substance, pseudooxynicotine, has been produced outside the body, and the research team has begun further studies to find out whether the same transformation takes place inside the body, as they suspect.
The findings so far are enough to raise concerns about nicotine-replacement therapy for tobacco users who are trying to quit. But the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Stephen Hecht, says, "Without question, nicotine replacement therapy is clearly preferable to continued use of tobacco products. Our research provides scientific evidence, however, that nicotine products designed for long-term use, such as the so-called 'safe' cigarettes, may not be safe."
Hecht's research will be published in the next issue of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."