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Heavy smokers who cut back still take in more toxins than light smokers

University of Minnesota tobacco researchers have found that heavy smokers who reduce their number of daily cigarettes still take in two to three times more total toxins per cigarette than light smokers.

The study, published in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, cites compensatory smoking as the chief reason for the increased exposure despite decreased cigarette use.

"We found that the more that heavy smokers reduced their smoking, the more likely they were to increase their intake of toxicants per cigarette, presumably because they took more frequent puffs or inhaled deeper or longer on each cigarette to compensate for fewer cigarettes smoked," said Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D., lead researcher on the study. "This indicates that they are trying to maintain a specific level of nicotine in their bodies."

Hatsukami is a professor and researcher with the University of Minnesota Medical School and Cancer Center. She also directs the Universitys Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center.

"Our results are consistent with other studies that show that people who decrease their smoking by 50 percent or more do not experience a comparable reduction in risk for lung cancer because they tend to smoke their fewer cigarettes more intensely," Hatsukami said. "The best way to lower the risk for tobacco-caused premature death is to stop smoking altogether."

The study participants included a group of 64 heavy smokers who had reduced their smoking to levels similar with a group of 62 light smokers. The heavy smokers had smoked on average 26 cigarettes per day before their cigarette reduction. All of the heavy smokers had reduced their smoking by at least 40 percent and smoked five cigarettes per day within six months of enrolling in their study. The light smokers used on average 5.6 cigarettes per day.

Hatsukami and her colleagues created a mathematical formula to calculate the degree of smoking compensation in the hea
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Contact: Sara E. Buss
buss@umn.edu
612-624-2449
University of Minnesota
13-Dec-2006


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