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Could Menthol Cigarettes Pose Even Higher Stroke Risk?
Date:4/9/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Menthol cigarettes may pose an even greater risk for stroke than other types of cigarettes, especially for women and non-black smokers, says a new, large study.

In the latest look at the hazards of menthols vs. regular cigarettes, Canadian researchers found the stroke risk for those who smoked menthols was more than twice that for regular-cigarette smokers. And for women and non-blacks, the risk was more than three times higher.

But no elevated risk was seen between mentholated cigarette smoking and high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure and the lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the researchers said.

Exactly how, or if, smoking menthol cigarettes raises risk of stroke more than other cigarettes types is not fully understood.

"One potential mechanism is that menthol stimulates upper-airway cold receptors, which can increase breath-holding time, which may in turn facilitate the entrance of cigarette particulate matter into the lungs," said study author Dr. Nicholas Vozoris of St. Michael's Hospital, in Toronto. "Why smoking mentholated cigarettes would not result in an increase in forms of cardiopulmonary disease, other than stroke, is not clear."

The findings appear in a research letter published April 9 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Blacks are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than white smokers, but their stroke risk was lower in this study compared to non-blacks. "While this group has higher risk for stroke than Caucasians in general, this study found that the increased stroke risk among mentholated cigarette smokers was actually driven by non-African Americans, and not African-Americans," he said.

The findings should not be interpreted as any one type of cigarette is safer than any other. "There is no 'good' cigarette type," Vozoris said. "Smoking any kind o
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