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More Cancer-Causing Chemicals in U.S. Cigarettes
Date:6/1/2010

They contain about 3 times as much of a potent carcinogen as foreign brands, CDC finds

TUESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- American cigarettes could pack a more toxic punch than foreign brands, say researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers compared the levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines -- a main carcinogenic component of tobacco -- in cigarette butts and in smokers from several countries.

The result: "All cigarettes are not the same, and cigarettes across countries do not deliver the same amount of carcinogens to people," said Dr. Jim Pirkle, deputy director for science at the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health's Division of Laboratory Sciences.

In fact, the amount of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in U.S. brands is about triple that of brands from Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom, he said.

Pirkle was not involved in the study, which was led by researcher David Ashley from the same office at the CDC. The study authors stressed that even though TNSA levels may vary brand to brand, all cigarettes are unsafe.

Still, the new findings should help the FDA as it fulfills its new responsibilities overseeing tobacco products, Pirkle said. "This is a major effort for them and they need to understand the different levels of carcinogens that people are exposed to, as they vary by different cigarette brands," he said.

The report is published in the June issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Cigarette tobacco varies both by manufacturer and where the product is made. For example, American brands use the so-called "American blend" tobacco, which contains higher levels of TSNAs than cigarettes from Australia, Canada or the U.K., according to the researchers.

In those other countries, cigarettes are made from "bright" tobacco, which is lighter
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