Study finds US cigs highest in chemicals

Americans inhale more cancer-causing agents with their cigarettes, while smokers in Canada, Britain and Australia get less, US researchers report.

Their study also demonstrated that the amounts of these carcinogens in a smoker's cigarette butts directly correlated with tell-tale compounds in the smoker's urine.

The study, published in the June issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, could help researchers trying to trace the harmful effects of smoking.

"We know that cigarettes from around the world vary in their ingredients and the way they are produced," says Dr Jim Pirkle of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who heads a lab using a mass spectrometer to measure levels of chemicals in people's bodies.

"All of these cigarettes contain harmful levels of carcinogens, but these findings show that amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines differ from country to country, and US brands are the highest in the study," says Pirkle.

CDC's David Ashley and colleagues did in-depth tests using 126 smokers in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

"Seventeen eligible cigarette brands (between three and five brands from each country) were selected on the basis of national sales and nicotine yield to identify popular brands with a range of ventilation," the researchers write. Ventilation is how much air is mixed in with the smoke from the cigarette as it is inhaled.

The volunteers had their saliva and urine tested and also turned over their used cigarette butts to the researchers.


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