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Cancer Risk Increased With Early Morning Cigarette

August 8, 2011

That first cigarette of the morning may be the most dangerous one you have all day. A study of 7,610 smokers, published in the journal Cancer, emphasizes the effect was independent of other smoking habits.

Cancer Research UK suggested to BBC News that people who are quick to smoke may inhale more smoke into the lungs and which could nearly double the already high risk of lung cancer.

Scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine in the US looked at 4,776 smokers with lung cancer and 2,835 smokers without cancer. They showed that patients who smoked in the first 30 minutes after waking up were 79 percent more likely to have developed cancer than those who waited at least an hour.

The researchers said that the “time to first cigarette” effect was present even after they statistically adjusted for other factors such as the number of cigarettes smoked in a day.

Another study in the same journal looked at 1,850 smokers, 1,055 of whom had head and neck cancers. It said people who smoked in the first half hour were 59 percent more likely to have developed a tumor than those who waited at least an hour, the Daily Mail reports.

The authors admit, “It is uncertain what explanation there is for the relationship”.

Dr. Joshua Muscar, lead researcher, explains, “These smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body, and they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more.”

Cancer Research UK’s Professor Robert West explained to teh Daily Mail: “Smokers who light up soon after waking tend to smoke each cigarette more intensively. So the most likely explanation of this finding is that the sooner a smoker lights up, the more smoke is taken into the lungs, and the higher the level of exposure to cancer causing chemicals.”

“This may help estimating levels of tobacco exposure more than just looking at the usual daily cigarette consumption.”

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