People who smoke a cigarette as soon as they wake up in the morning are more
likely to develop lung and oral cancer than other smokers, a new study
Penn State researchers analysed data from nearly 2000 adult smokers who took
part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The
participants provided blood samples and information about their smoking
The investigators found that about 32% of the participants smoked their first
cigarette of the day within five minutes of waking. Among the others, 31% smoked
within 6 to 30 minutes, 18% smoked within 31 to 60 minutes, and 19% smoked more
than an hour after waking.
People who had a cigarette immediately after waking had higher levels of NNAL
- a byproduct of a tobacco-specific cancer-causing substance called NNK - in
their blood than those who smoked a half hour or more after waking, regardless
of how many cigarettes they smoked in a day, the study authors reported.
Inhalation 'deeper and more thorough'
The research team also found that NNAL levels in the participants' blood was
also associated with factors such as their age, their gender, the age they
started smoking, and whether or not another smoker lived in their home.
"Most importantly, we found that NNAL level was highest among people who
smoked the soonest upon waking, regardless of the frequency of smoking and other
factors that predict NNAL concentrations," study co-author Steven Branstetter,
an assistant professor of bio-behaviour health, said in a Penn State news
"We believe these people who smoke sooner after waking inhale more deeply and
more thoroughly, which could explain the higher levels of NNAL in their blood,
as well as their higher risk of developing oral or lung cancer," he added.
"As a result, time to first cigarette might be an important factor in the
identification of high-risk smokers and in the development of interventions
targeted toward early morning smokers."
The US National Cancer Institute has more about the
harms of smoking.
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