Research suggests ingredient in tobacco causes higher risk of lung cancer in U.S. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Research suggests ingredient in tobacco causes higher risk of lung cancer in U.S.

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Can the design of cigarettes make them more dangerous? New research suggests changes in cigarette designs are fueling a certain type of lung cancer. The research was done at the University of California-San Diego. Dr. David Burns, who performed the study, says more research is needed. But what he's found may link higher cancer rates to one cigarette ingredient used more often in the U.S. than in Australia.

The study suggests American smokers have a higher risk for adenocarcinoma, cancer of small tubes in the lungs. It points to chemicals called nitrosamines as the cause. They occur during the tobacco-curing process.

"I think this is a reasonable piece of research," said Dr. Christopher Squier, an oral pathologist at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry. But Squier says nitrosamines are not the sole cancer-causing agent in tobacco.

"It's like sitting on the interstate and debating whether you would rather be hit by an SUV or a truck," he said, meaning there are nearly countless variables to consider.

"There's thousands of ingredients, toxic ingredients, cancer-causing ingredients, in tobacco smoke that are almost inevitably going to do some damage."

Rather than change cigarette ingredients, Squier says not using them is the obvious answer to lung cancer prevention. Bill Phelps, a spokesman for major tobacco company Philip Morris USA, says while the study hasn't been published, they've already been targeting nitrosamines.

"We've worked with growers to change how they use heating systems when they are curing tobacco, which has been shown to reduce the levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines."

Once the study is complete, Phelps says Philip Morris will examine the findings more closely. In the meantime, he says cigarettes and their many components remain a health risk.

"Philip Morris USA agrees with the overwhelming scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes serious diseases."

The study is reported to conclude that federal regulation of tobacco is warranted. A bill already passed House and is going through the Senate, to do just that.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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