Smoking fewer cigarettes does not reduce risk
Smokers Beware: New study shows that fewer cigarettes does not decrease cancer risk.
A new study from the University of Minnesota Cancer Center shows that smokers who smoke fewer cigarettes per day do not exhibit a proportional decrease in tobacco carcinogen in the blood.
Carcinogens are the agents that induce cells to divide rapidly and uncontrollably, leading to the formation of a malignant tumor.
The study analyzed the byproducts of the tobacco carcinogen, NNK, in the urine of the smokers in the study.
The individuals in the study reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked per day throughout the duration of the study.
Although the individuals had an overall decrease in the amount of tobacco carcinogen present, the level of decrease was not consistent with the decrease in cigarette smoking.
Researchers who performed the study say the result may be the tendency of smokers to compensate for the decrease in amount of smoking.
Essentially, they suggest that people who are reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day tend to counteract this by inhaling each cigarette smoked longer and deeper.
Therefore, the net concentration of tobacco carcinogens in the body is not significantly less than before the reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked.
According to researchers in the study, the only way to effectively reduce the risk of cancers associated with tobacco use is to stop smoking completely.
According to the National Cancer Institute's Web site, cigarette smoking causes 87% of all lung cancers and can also lead to cancers of the larynx, oral cavity, and bladder.
The NCI states "Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States.
Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually in the United States."
The NCI further states that the effects of quitting cigarette smoking are immediate.
It states that people who quit smoking soon have improved circulation and decreased carbon monoxide levels in the blood.
Furthermore, it states that quitting smoking does reduce the risk of cancer and that people who stop smoking live longer than does who continue to do so. The 1983 Surgeon General's Report states that "Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in the United States," and this statement still applies to the current generation.
The 2001 Surgeon General's Report also indicated that lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. This shows that there is no longer a gender gap in the smoking problem.
Furthermore, tobacco may pose another danger for women and may cause cervical cancer.
Dr. Alain Joffe, MD, MPH., FAAP, director of the Student Health and Wellness Center at Johns Hopkins University says that quitting smoking can be challenging, but the Wellness Center staff encourages students to quit smoking.
He indicates that students who smoke have more frequent colds than students who do not smoke, and that their colds often last longer than those of students who do not smoke.
Dr. Joffe indicates another factor complicating the issue of quitting smoking is the notion of a "safe cigarette."
The idea of a safe cigarette, with less cancer-causing constituents was refuted by the Surgeon General. All cigarettes contain dangerous and harmful agents, such as those found in toxic waste, including tar and carbon monoxide.
Dr. Joffe says that the Wellness Center has a variety of resources to help students who would like to quit smoking. Dr. Joffe emphasizes that Wellness Center "can offer behavioral advice, information about nicotine replacement therapy (mostly all available over the counter) and prescriptions for bupropion (Zyban), a medication that actually helps reduce the craving for cigarettes."
As the Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD said, "Tobacco use will remain the leading cause of preventable illness and death in this nation and a growing number of other countries until tobacco prevention and control efforts are commensurate with the harm caused by tobacco use."