Study Suggests Postponing The First Cigarette Of The Day

Reveling in that first cigarette of the day may have an unpleasant, extra impact on your health. The breakfast cigarette, meant to satisfying an immediate addictive urge after hours of smoke-free sleep, has been found to especially increase the likelihood of acquiring lung and oral cancer.

These claims are based on the results of a study published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers Prevention.

Researchers at Penn State determined, the earlier a person smokes upon waking, the higher their risk is of eventually developing one of several smoking-related cancers. This has to do with a heightened presence of NNAL in the blood and urine, a metabolite of the tobacco-specific chemical NNK.

NNK (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-[3-pyridyl]-1-butanone) is carcinogenic (cancer causing) and has been found to induce lung tumors in several rodent study models. Levels of NNAL (4-(methylnitrosamnino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol) in the blood and urine can be used to predict lung cancer risks.

NNK enters the body through the use of all types of tobacco products including smokeless. NNK can enter the bodies of non-smokers through second hand smoke and cutaneous exposure.

In order to establish these cancer related findings, Steven Branstetter – an assistant professor of bio-behavioral health, and his colleague Joshua Muscat – a professor of public health sciences, both examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They reviewed the urinalysis and other samples of 1,945 adult smokers who participated in the survey. Measuring NNAL in urine is a reliable way to determine the level of exposure to NNK.

Along with providing urine samples, the smokers disclosed details of their smoking habits including how early after waking they’d light up. Nearly 32 percent of participants would smoke within five minutes of waking; 31 percent within six to 30; 18 percent after 31 to 60 minutes; and 19 percent smoked an hour or more after.

The analysts found NNAL levels were highest among those in the group who smoked almost immediately upon waking. In addition, they assessed smokers who postponed partaking in their habitual pleasure for thirty minutes or more after waking, regardless of the number of cigarettes smoked per day, had a lesser concentration of NNAL in comparison to those who immediately lit-up after rousing.

Branstetter theorized the higher NNAL concentration may be due to how deeply and more thorough people naturally breathe within minutes after stirring from hours of rest, thus inhaling and absorbing more carcinogens from their first cigarette of the day.

[Image via Shutterstock]