News / Africa

When a Smoker Lights Up May Increase Risk

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The health risks of cigarette smoking are well known, such as cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular disease.  But new research shows that when you smoke can make it even more risky.


Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death, according to the World Health Organization. It estimates six million people die every year from smoking-related illnesses, most in low and middle income countries.

A new study looks at smokers, who light-up right after waking up each morning. Penn State University researchers say those smokers are more likely to develop lung or oral cancer.

“For a lot of years, one of the ways people had been assessing nicotine dependence was through a measure called the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence. It was about eight to ten items and one of those items was how soon after waking you smoke your first cigarette -- one of the very best indicators of dependence. Even more so interestingly than the actual number of cigarettes somebody smokes per day,” said Steven Branstetter, an assistant professor of biobehavioral health.

He and his colleague, Professor Joshua Muscat, think they know why.

“What we theorize is happening is that it’s really an indicator of how people go about smoking their cigarettes. And what I mean by that is people who are smoking first thing in the morning inhale deeper. They probably have more puffs per cigarette. So, it’s really an indicator of how people go about smoking, probably moreso than anything else that we’re looking at,” he said.

Inhaling more deeply, holding smoke within the lungs longer and taking more puffs, greatly increases exposure to all toxins. 

“But most importantly,” said Branstetter, “what we found is they’re getting exposure to a nicotine-specific nitrosamine or carcinogen.

That’s something that can cause cancer. Branstetter says the carcinogen in question is called NNK. As the body metabolizes it a substance called NNAL is produced. That’s found in high-levels in people who smoke immediately after waking up.

“Having a reasonably high presence of it increases the risk. How much? We’re not sure yet. [Are] there things that people do that modify that risk? We’re not sure about that yet either. We’re still relatively early in that phase of our research. But we do know that when we find it there in the urine it does indicate some increased risk of lung cancer,” he said.

The study’s findings are based on data from nearly 2000 adult smokers. More than 30 percent said they smoked their first cigarette within five minutes of waking. Nearly the same amount said they took their first puff within 6 to 30 minutes of waking up.

Branstetter said, “Some people have asked should I just smoke later in the day. Would that help it? And the answer is I don’t think it’s going to help anything right now. People are never really aware of how dependent they themselves are. The recommendation might be if you’re a smoker, notice how soon after you wake up that you smoke your first cigarette. That is going to be a pretty good indicator of your level of not only potential, later on risk for lung cancer, but it’s a pretty good indicator of how dependent on nicotine you actually are.”

The Penn State University researchers say the next step is to give smokers devices that scientifically measure how deeply they inhale when they smoke throughout the day.

The findings appear in the March 29th issue of the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid