Author: Malathy Iyer
It is well known that smoking is injurious to health, but what is now emerging is that smokers who light up first thing in the morning are more likely than other smokers to suffer from lung or oral cancer.
The research could serve as an eye-opener for India, where tobacco-related cancers claim over 1 million lives every year. The correlation between the time of the first smoke and cancer comes from a carcinogen found in cigarettes.
A new study from Penn University in the US has shown that smokers who consume cigarettes immediately after waking up have higher levels of a carcinogen called NNAL (a derivative of NNK (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-[3-pyridyl]-1-butanone) throughout the day in comparison to others. Steven Branstetter, assistant professor at Penn University, said that other researches had shown that NNK induces lung tumors in several rodent species. His team hence believes that levels of NNAL in the blood can predict lung cancer risk in rodents as well as in humans.
The team examined data on 1,945 smoking adults and found that around 32 % smoked their first cigarette of the day within 5 minutes of waking; 31 % smoked within 6 to 30 minutes of waking; 18 % smoked within 31 to 60 minutes of waking; and 19 percent smoked more than one hour after waking. “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,” Branstetter said in a press release. The research has been published in the latest issue of medical journal named Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.