Investigation into the risk of ultra-low tar cigarettes and lung cancer

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We present analyses relating cigarette type to lung cancer based on a case-control study in five European countries. The analyses involved 3561 cases and 2301 controls with diseases not associated with smoking. Subjects completed a detailed questionnaire, including a lifetime smoking history. Analyses included never smokers, and those who smoked for at least 80% of the “critical period” from 2 to 20 years before diagnosis, ignoring those who ever smoked pipes or cigars, or chewed tobacco. The main analysis compares risk in those who, in the critical period, smoked ultra-low tar (ULT) cigarettes (machine yield ≤3 mg tar/cigarette) for 8 + years, with those who only smoked full flavour (FF) cigarettes (≥10 mg tar/cigarette). After adjustment for sex, age, country, education, age of starting smoking, mean cigarette consumption and mean tar level 21–50 years before interview, the odds ratio (OR) was 0.73 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.50–1.06). Other analyses showed a modest, not statistically significant, reduction in risk with tar reduction. Risk in ULT smokers for 8 + years was substantially higher than in never smokers (OR 16.27, 95% CI 10.14–26.09). The study was prematurely terminated due to cost overrun, limiting the power to detect an association. More evidence is needed, particularly on lifetime ULT smoking.HighlightsNo previous data exists on lung cancer risk from ultralow tar (ULT) cigarettes.We analysed data from a large study involving 3561 cases and 2301 controls.Smokers of ULT (for 8 + years) and full flavour cigarettes were compared.The confounder-adjusted odds ratio was 0.73 (95% CI 0.50–1.06).More data are needed to clarify effects of longer term ULT smoking.

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