Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Safer Cigarette

I found the most fascinating article. The article is about the elevated risk of lung cancer in American men compared to Japanese men. It is interesting article because there is a higher smoking prevalence in Japanese men, but they have a lower risk of lung cancer compared to American men.
First thing the article addresses is genetics; perhaps Caucasians are genetically disposed to lung cancer compared to the Japanese men. This theory was wrong because rates of Japanese born Americans and Japanese immigrants were the same as American men, so genetics is not the main factor. The mean duration of smoking for the American and Japanese men was the same. The next thing that was evaluated was the age of smoking of the American and Japanese men. They found that American men started smoking at a younger age compared to Japanese men; perhaps this was associated with an elevated risk of lung cancer. Nevertheless, smoking at earlier age was not a risk factor for lung cancer. So far it is not genetics or the age of smoking or the duration of smoking that explained the higher risk of lung cancer in American men. Apparently the answer is in the cigarettes. The smoke from American cigarettes has higher concentrations of carcinogenic compounds than Japanese cigarettes. The nicotine level in both cigarettes are the same, but what is not the same is that American cigarettes has 35% more benzo(a)pyrene and 170% more NNK than Japanese cigarettes. Also the Japanese cigarettes have charcoal filter tips which selectively remove certain volatile compounds that are known as carcinogens and inhibitors of lung clearance. There are other factors that contribute to the higher rate of lung cancer in American men and one of them is diet. It is known that Japanese diet contains less fat than the American diet which can contribute to the risk of lung of cancer. The elevated risk of lung cancer for American men compared to Japanese men is because they literally smoke more carcinogens and volatile compounds due to the poorer filter tips.
It is common knowledge that smoking cigarettes equates lung cancer in the future if the individual does not quit. However smoking does not only equates to lung cancer, there is acute myeloid leukemia, bladder cancer, cancer of the esophagus, kidney cancer, cancer of the larynx, cancer of the oral cavity, stomach cancer, and cancer of the pharynx. Since all of these cancers are caused by mostly of the carcinogens in cigarettes, based on the results of the article there would be elevated risk not just in lung cancer in American men, but an elevated risk in other cancers that are possibly caused by smoking.
Reading this article for its face value, an individual who is a smoker would choose to smoke Japanese cigarettes instead of the American cigarettes. I have done some research to find the amount of nicotine and tar in Japanese and American cigarettes. Hope, Japanese cigarettes, has 14 mg of tar and 1.1 mg of nicotine compared to Marlboro reds has 12 mg of tar and 1 mg of nicotine. It is interesting to see that Hope has more tar and nicotine, yet it is the cigarette that could possible decrease a person’s chances of getting lung cancer than smoking Marlboro reds. Something is definitely wrong; the article mentions the charcoal filters in Japanese cigarettes which are not present in American cigarettes are the reason for decrease risk of lung cancer. Charcoal filters contain bits of charcoal into the synthetic fiber filters. The theory is having bits of charcoal in the filter fibers will reduce toxins in the smoke. Can the type of filter really make a difference? Well after some research, the answer is maybe. “Anatomy of a Cigarette” states that the theory of charcoal filter fibers is untrue because there is no evidence that these cigarettes are less dangerous. However, “Effect of charcoal-containing cigarette filters on gas phase volatile organic compounds in mainstream cigarette smoke” states that charcoal filters in cigarettes make a difference.

The article “Smoking and Lung Cancer Risk in American and Japanese Men: An International Case-Control Study” mentions that elevated risk of lung cancer in American men compared to Japanese men is due to the poorer filters in American cigarettes compared with Japanese cigarettes which have charcoal filters. Based on the article “Anatomy of a Cigarette” there is no evidence of charcoal filter fibers reducing the risk of lung cancer or making cigarettes less dangerous. However, “Effect of charcoal-containing cigarette filters on gas phase volatile organic compounds in mainstream cigarette smoke” mentions that charcoal filters are effective in reducing the volatile organic compounds. Charcoal filters imply the idea of a “safer cigarette” because it can reduce the chances of getting lung cancer or prolong the chance of getting lung cancer. So, there are two articles that explain that charcoal filters do have an effect and there is one article that states it does not have an effect. The question now becomes does charcoal filters on cigarettes equates a “safer cigarette?” You be the judge, is it important to find the answer to the question and if so why?

Please note this blog is not meant to promote smoking cigarettes.