International Health News

Pipe smoking and lung cancer

LYON, FRANCE. It is a well established fact that the smoking of cigarettes increases the risk of lung cancer by a factor of about 15. The situation regarding pipe and cigar smoking is not quite so clear and some studies have shown comparatively little increase in lung cancer risk among cigar and pipe smokers. Now a team of European researchers from nine major medical centers reports that pipe and cigar smokers also face a vastly increased risk of lung cancer. Their study involved 5621 men with lung cancer and 7255 matched controls. The researchers found that pipe smokers increased their risk of developing lung cancer by a factor of 7.9 as compared to non-smokers while cigar and cigarillos (small cigars) smokers increased their risk by a factor of 9. Cigarette smokers were found to have a 14.9 times higher risk of lung cancer than were non-smokers. Cigar smokers who began their habit before the age of 20 years were particularly vulnerable to lung cancer as were those who smoked more than 15 grams per day and had been smoking for a long time. Heavy smokers of cigars and cigarillos were found to have a 35 times greater risk than non-smokers and smokers who inhaled had a five times greater risk than smokers who did not. The researchers conclude that cigar and pipe smoke is just as carcinogenic as cigarette smoke and that previous results indicating that pipe and cigar smoking may be safer can be explained by the fact that pipe and cigar smokers tend to smoke less and start the habit later in life.
Boffetta, Paolo, et al. Cigar and pipe smoking and lung cancer risk: a multicenter strudy from Europe. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 91, April 21, 1999, pp. 697- 701

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