Menthol cigarettes may increase stroke risk, study says

12:48 PM, Apr 10, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Menthol cigarette smokers are more likely to have a history of stroke than smokers who prefer other types of cigarettes, according to a new study published in the April 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that menthol cigarette smokers were more than twice as likely to have a stroke than non-menthol smokers. The risk was more than three times higher for women and non-blacks.

"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 researcher 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."

However the results of the study also indicated that mentholated smoking only increased the risk of stroke, and did not elevate the risk of developing other health conditions such as hypertension, heart attack, or lung disease.

Experts say that although the study highlights the potential health dangers for menthol smokers, other types of cigarettes are not much safer.

"There is no 'good' cigarette type," Vozoris said. "Smoking any kind of cigarette is bad for one's health, and serves to increase one's risk for a variety of cancers, heart diseases and lung diseases. However, this study shows that smoking mentholated cigarettes may place one at even higher risk for stroke than smoking regular, non-mentholated cigarettes."

Since the new study shows an association between menthol cigarettes and stroke risk but does not indicate a clear cause and effect, experts say additional research needs to be done before any specific conclusions can be made.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on the dangers of smoking.

WUSA

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