Cigarette “lightness” does not reduce health risks

Light and ultralight cigarettes have become more common in recent years. However, these by no means reduce the health risks of smoking, a recent study has shown.

Bronchial cancer risk also increased with light and ultralight cigarette types

Light and ultralight cigarettes have become more common in recent years. However, these by no means reduce the health risks of smoking, a recent study has shown.

The incidence of bronchial carcinoma is still higher among smokers than among non-smokers. The fact of whether smokers consume light, ultralight or conventional cigarettes is irrelevant. Those who smoke completely filterless, however, still have the highest cancer risk.

Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in up to 85% of cases. As the 5-year survival rate is usually below 18-20%, lung cancer is considered rather unfavorable in lung cancer prognoses. The labeling of filter cigarettes as "light" or "ultra-light" serves in this context only to calm smokers because neither the harmful ingredients nor the associated risks are reduced, according to the result of a recent US study.

The results of the comparative study of more than 14,000 smokers and non-smokers showed that, for example, a 40% higher probability of bronchial carcinoma existed with unfiltered cigarettes than with filtered cigarettes. Lung cancer mortality doubled with unfiltered cigarettes.

It made no difference whether someone smoked normal filtered cigarettes or so-called “light” products. In both cases, the cancer incidence was about 4%. The same was found with regard to menthol-containing and menthol-free filtered cigarettes. Again, menthol had no effect on lung cancer incidence.

This study once again confirms that smoking is highly harmful to health. Filterless cigarettes have a much higher health risk than filtered cigarettes. However, those who believe that the light or ultralight presentations of filter cigarettes could cause less damage and a lower risk of cancer are mistaken. This should definitely be corrected and discussed with patients and consumers. In general, smokers should be encouraged to give up smoking during health consultations, and this recent study once again confirms it: Not smoking is the only effective way to reduce the risk of lung cancer in a significant manner.

Original publication:
Tanner NT et al., Association of Cigarette Type With Lung Cancer Incidence and Mortality: Secondary Analysis of the National Lung Screening Trial. JAMA Intern Med 2019; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.3487

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