Early-morning smokers at greater risk of Oral Cancer

A recent U.S. study of almost 2,000 adult smokers has revealed that people who smoke a cigarette upon waking in the morning are significantly more likely to develop oral or lung cancer.

The researchers found that participants who smoked the soonest after getting up were the most at risk.

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Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University analyzed urinary samples provided by 1,945 adults for tobacco-specific biomarkers. About 32 percent of the participants smoked their first cigarette within 5 minutes of waking, 31 percent smoked within 30 minutes of waking and 19 percent smoked more than 1 hour after waking.

The researchers found that NNAL, a chemical compound found in tobacco and tobacco products, was twice as high in samples of participants who smoked within 5 minutes of waking compared with those who waited for at least 1 hour before smoking their first cigarette, regardless of how many cigarettes they smoked per day, said Dr. Steven A. Branstetter, lead author and assistant professor at the university's Department of Biobehavioral Health.

"We believe that people who smoke sooner after waking inhale more deeply and more thoroughly, which could also explain the higher levels of NNAL in their blood, as well as their higher risk of developing oral or lung cancer," Branstetter said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NNAL levels in smokers are about 50 to 150 times higher than in nonsmokers.

The findings were published in the April issue of the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal.