No Such Thing as a Safe Cigarette

Filter holes on cigarettes may be tied to adenocarcinoma cases

(RxWiki News) Despite their marketing as a "healthier" option, so-called "light" filtered cigarettes may actually be causing more cases of a certain type of lung cancer, a new study found.

After looking at past research on the subject, the authors of this new study suggested that increases in adenocarcinoma may be tied to the introduction of holes in cigarette filters. These "high-ventilation" cigarettes were introduced around 50 years ago and marketed as a safer option, according to the study authors.

"This was done to fool smokers and the public health community into thinking that they actually were safer," said study author Dr. Peter Shields, a lung medical oncologist at Ohio State University, in a press release. "Our data suggests a clear relationship between the addition of ventilation holes to cigarettes and increasing rates of lung adenocarcinoma seen over the past 20 years. What is especially concerning is that these holes are still added to virtually all cigarettes that are smoked today."

The study authors said the ventilation holes on these cigarettes allow users to inhale more smoke that contains more cancer-causing substances.

"The filter ventilation holes change how the tobacco is burned, producing more carcinogens, which then also allows the smoke to reach the deeper parts of the lung where adenocarcinomas more frequently occur," Dr. Shields said.

Based on their findings, these researchers said regulatory agencies should ban ventilation holes on cigarettes. They said this action would likely decrease the use and harm of conventional cigarettes.

For help quitting smoking, talk to your health care provider.

This study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The National Cancer Institute and US Food and Drug Administration funded this research. Information on potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
May 31, 2017