According to a new report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the levels of several toxic substances are elevated in cigar smokers, and for at least one potent cancer-causing agent, comparable to the levels found in cigarette smokers.
Epidemiologists at the Food and Drug Administration analyzed the presence of five biomarkers of tobacco exposure in 25,522 participants in the National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES, 1999-2012).
Two of the biomarkers, cotinine and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL), are specific to tobacco. Three biomarkers—lead, cadmium, and arsenic—are not tobacco-specific and can be found in environmental sources.
The researchers found that cigar smokers, regardless of current cigarette smoking status, had higher concentrations of cotinine, NNAL, cadmium, and lead than did non-tobacco users. Cigar smokers with a history of smoking cigarettes had significantly higher concentrations of cotinine and NNAL than cigar smokers who did not previously smoke cigarettes. Finally, the researchers found that concentrations of NNAL in daily cigar smokers are comparable with those in daily cigarette smokers.
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