Menthol cigarette smoking in the COPDGene cohort: Relationship with COPD, comorbidities and CT metrics

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Abstract

Background and objective:

Menthol cigarettes contain higher levels of menthol to produce a characteristic mint flavour and cooling sensation. Compared with non-menthol cigarettes, little information exists on the effects of menthol cigarette smoking on clinical and radiological characteristics of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The main objective of the present study was to examine associations between menthol cigarette use and the risk of COPD and its characteristics, such as exacerbation, comorbidities and computed tomography (CT) abnormalities.

Methods:

We analysed the data from 5699 current smokers in the COPDGene cohort to evaluate whether lung function, comorbidities, exacerbations and CT parameters were different between menthol and non-menthol cigarette smokers.

Results:

There were 3758 (65.9%) who reported use of menthol cigarettes. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that younger age, female gender and African-American ethnicity were significantly associated with smoking of menthol cigarettes. No significant associations were found between menthol cigarette use and COPD, major CT findings or comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, gastro-oesophageal reflux and osteoporosis; however, menthol cigarette smokers were more likely to experience a severe exacerbation of COPD during longitudinal follow-up (odds ratio 1.29; 95% confidence interval: 1.01–1.54) compared with the non-menthol cigarette smokers.

Conclusions:

These results confirm that menthol cigarettes are not safer than traditional cigarettes and suggest that menthol cigarette smokers may have more frequent severe exacerbations than non-menthol cigarette smokers.

SUMMARY AT A GLANCE

Little information exists on the effects of menthol cigarette smoking on clinical and radiological characteristics of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Our results confirm that menthol cigarettes are not safer than traditional cigarettes and suggest that menthol cigarette smokers may have more frequent severe exacerbations than non-menthol cigarette smokers.

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