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Chiropractic Research Review

Cigars: Not a Safe Alternative to Cigarettes

Cigar sales increased nearly 50 percent in the U.S. from 1993-1997. Despite established associations between cigar smoking and serious health hazards, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cigars are generally perceived as safer than cigarettes and are heavily advertised in the mass media.

A 25-year study investigated the influence of cigar smoking on the health status of 17,774 men (30-85 years of age at baseline) who reported no previous history of cigarette or pipe smoking. Those who smoked cigars (1,546 men) and those who did not (16,228) were tracked for a first hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease, COPD or cancer.

Cigar smokers in the study were not as healthy as nonsmokers. They had a higher body mass index, higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, higher blood serum levels of total cholesterol, and were more likely to have diabetes mellitus. Results also showed that cigar smokers were at moderately higher risk for developing coronary heart disease or COPD, and had about twice as high a risk of developing cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract and lungs compared with nonsmokers. Additionally, smoking more than five cigars per day significantly increased this cancer risk, as well as the risk of peripheral artery disease.

These results were maintained even after considering the risk factors of genetic predisposition, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall diet and exercise. These results are further evidence of the profound dangers associated with smoking (both cigarettes and cigars), and emphasize the need to address the resurgence of cigar smoking noted in recent years.

Iribarren C, Tekawa IS, Sidney S, et al. Effect of cigar smoking on the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer in men. The New England Journal of Medicine, June 10, 1999:340(23), pp1773-80.

Chiropractic Research Review

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