December 3, 2009

WORLD: 'Higher risk' of lung cancer from smoking first thing

. LONDON, England / BBC News / Health / December 3, 2009 Smokers who light up on waking display higher levels of nicotine than those who wait, regardless of the number of cigarettes smoked, US research shows. Scientists measured smokers' levels of cotinine, a by-product of nicotine which has been shown to reflect the risk of developing lung cancer. It is the time of day you light up which seems important Waiting until you had eaten breakfast reduced the amount of this chemical. The team from Penn State College says their study suggests the earlier smokers may need more help to give up. The reasons for the differing levels were unclear, but are thought likely to reflect a more intense way of smoking among those who light up first thing - as their need may be greater than those who can wait. More than 250 healthy people who smoked every day were included in the study, which was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. Waking desire Among smokers who consumed 20 cigarettes each day, cotinine levels varied dramatically - with the top levels nearly 75 times higher than the lowest levels.
"Not all smokers are the same and approaches to smoking reduction may need to account for individual smoking behaviours such as the intensity and frequency of puffing, cravings, and physiological symptoms" Joshua Muscat, Report author
The highest levels were seen among those who lit up within 30 minutes of waking - categorised as high dependency. "These people may require a more intensive intervention than other smokers to help them quit smoking on a sustained or permanent basis," said report author Joshua Muscat, professor of public health at Penn State College of Medicine. "Not all smokers are the same and approaches to smoking reduction may need to account for individual smoking behaviours such as the intensity and frequency of puffing, cravings, and physiological symptoms." A spokesperson for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation welcomed the research, which it said would help further understanding of smoking habits and addiction to tobacco. "It is however a small study (252 participants), and therefore the findings should be taken with caution, and we are not entirely sure that any major conclusions on the future of smoking cessation can be made from this. "We concur with the authors that more research is needed in this area." [rc] © BBC MMIX