Habits: Smokers' Ethnicity May Make Difference
When it comes to the health effects of smoking, the ethnicity of smokers may be as important as the kind of cigarettes they smoke.
A new study has found that Chinese- American smokers take in less nicotine per cigarette than white smokers do and that their bodies actually metabolize the drug more slowly.
This may mean that Chinese-Americans generally need fewer cigarettes to maintain their nicotine levels. The finding may also help explain why lung cancer rates are lower among Asians, the authors said.
Writing in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco say the findings may help pinpoint the amount of medication needed to help Chinese-Americans quit smoking.
But beyond that, the authors said, the study suggests that ethnicity may need to be taken into account regularly when determining proper medicine doses.
In the past, Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, the lead author, reported that African-Americans absorbed more cigarette smoke than white smokers.
For this study, he studied nicotine absorption in 37 Chinese-Americans, 40 Latinos and 54 whites. The volunteers were given infusions of nicotine that had been specially marked to allow it to be tracked in the body, and then blood and urine samples were taken to see how the nicotine had been metabolized.