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Toxins remain despite reduced cigarette consumption
The Cancer Information Network
Posting Date: February 11, 2004

New York (The Cancer Information Network) -- Simply reducing tobacco consumption will not rid the body of cancer-causing toxins, according to the results of a study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings suggest that cessation is the only proven way of reducing the risk of lung cancer.  Roughly 90 percent of all lung cancer cases may be traced to smoking, which is also the leading cause of heart disease.

Researchers led by Dr. Stephen Hecht of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center studied 92 smokers over a six-month period.  The participants, who on average smoked 23.7 cigarettes a day, systematically reduced their tobacco intake to 25% fewer cigarettes during the first two weeks, 50% less the following two weeks, and 75% less later on if they could do so.

The level of toxins was then measured through urine tests that focused on by-products of NNK, a well-known carcinogen in tobacco smoke.  The results revealed a reduction in toxins far less in proportion to the reduction in tobacco consumption.

The tests showed, for instance, that even smokers who had reduced their smoking by 55% to 90% experienced an NNK reduction of only 27% to 51%.  Smokers who had managed to keep their consumption down to just two cigarettes a day experienced an NNK reduction of only 46%.  

Researchers cited the possibility of "compensation" with smokers changing their smoking habits, like dragging longer and harder on the cigarette, to make up for the reduction in cigarette consumption.

The study likewise illustrated the difficulties smokers experience when trying to kick the habit.  About 56 % of the participants were back to a pack or more a day some six months into the study.

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