Cigarettes Sold in U.S. Contain More Carcinogens

Each year, cigarettes result in about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs in the United States. Now, Reuters is reporting that U.S. researchers found that Americans are inhaling more c<"">ancer-causing ingredients when smoking. This is likely due to tobacco blends, said Reuters; Canadian, British, and Australian smokers apparently take in less of these dangerous ingredients, noted Reuters.

The study also found that these dangerous carcinogens are directly linked to compounds in smokers’ urine, said Reuters, which wrote that the study is published in the June issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. “We know that cigarettes from around the world vary in their ingredients and the way they are produced,” said Dr. Jim Pirkle of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPC). Dr. Pirkle is the head of a laboratory that uses a mass spectrometer to measure chemical levels in the human body.

“All of these cigarettes contain harmful levels of carcinogens, but these findings show that amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines differ from country to country, and U.S. brands are the highest in the study,” Pirkle said in a statement, quoted Reuters.

The research was conducted by the CDC’s David Ashley and colleagues and involved tests on 126 smokers from the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Australia, said Reuters. “Seventeen eligible cigarette brands (between 3 and 5 brands from each country) were selected on the basis of national sales and nicotine yield to identify popular brands with a range of ventilation,” the researchers wrote, quoted Reuters. Reuters explained that ventilation refers to the amount of air that mixes with cigarette smoke during inhalation.

Study participants supplied saliva, urine, used cigarette butts to the research team, said Reuters. Everything was tested for nicotine and “for the chemicals 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK for short) and the breakdown product of NNK in the body, called NNAL,” wrote Reuters, which noted that the “cancer-causing agents are known as tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs.”

“We have shown a direct association between the 24-hour mouth-level exposure of NNK resulting from cigarette smoking and the concentration of its primary metabolite, NNAL, in the urine of smokers,” the researchers wrote. “Internal dose concentrations of urinary NNAL are significantly lower in smokers in countries that have lower TSNA levels in cigarettes such as Canada and Australia in contrast to countries that have high levels of these carcinogens in cigarettes, such as the United States,” the team added.

According to Reuters, the popular brands of cigarettes studied in the U.S. contained so-called “American Blend” tobacco, known to contain higher TSNA levels than “bright” tobacco, a blend used in popular Australian, Canadian, and British brands. While Australian and Canadian smokers received more nicotine than U.S. and British smokers, they received lower TSNA levels, said Reuters.

Brands tested included Marlboro (Philip Morris International and Altria Group Inc’s Philip Morris USA unit); Winfield (British American Tobacco Australia); Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges (Japan Tobacco Inc.); Players (Imperial Tobacco, a division of Imasco Ltd.); Camels (Reynolds American); and Newports (Lorillard Inc.).

Worldwide, said Reuters citing the World Health Organization (WHO), cigarettes kill five million people in the form of tobacco-related heart attacks, strokes, and cancers; an additional 430,000 adults die each year from inhaling second-hand smoke.

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