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    Cigarette Smoking Woo - Time Of Day Impacts Cancer Risk
    By Hank Campbell | August 18th 2011 04:01 AM | 9 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Look, we all know smoking is bad for you by now.  We don't need to spend billions of dollars telling people that but an entire industry has been built around getting people to stop, and it is primarily funded by penalties on tobacco companies and taxes.   It's a truly parasitic relationship but it isn't going anywhere and anti-smoking groups need smokers to stay in business.  Apparently so do some researchers.

    Some have blamed the culture for smoking continuing to happen despite common sense.  No less an authority than Meathead from "All In The Family" (Rob Reiner, a pretty good director, actually) says smoking should be eliminated from movies yet if I were to contend that all prints of "North" should be buried at the bottom of an abandoned mine shift, he would say that is censorship because there was no smoking in it.  

    He may have a point about media causing smoking.   Nothing ever happens on the television show "Mad Men", for example, so I can't watch it on a weekly basis but since Netflix has the various episodes over their streaming service, and therefore I can watch them all at once to remember nothing has happened, I have done so.   I must tell you, after watching a few of those I wanted to light up a cigarette and knock down a Gimlet - and I don't even normally like to take aspirin.

    Culture matters, but if we start to control one guy's pet projects we end up controlling the pet projects for every special interest and that is bad.  I don't think commercials for sugar-frosted chocolate bombs during a kid's television show are great but some people will do things that are bad for them, and that means some people will smoke.  I think the New York Times health section should have a disclaimer and a graphic of what happens to the brains of people who read it too much - but I wouldn't ban that either.

    Cultural mullahs who get too much control take society to bad places.  It even happens in science, like when any bit of silliness gets printed, as long as it implicates smoking.  Evidence: a 'study' in Cancer claiming if you smoke in the morning, you are more likely to get lung cancer.   Why the morning?  Why not?  They could have picked lunch time or brunch or whatever they wanted and made it work. If you cared about good science you stopped reading this piece long ago.
    Smoking in the first 30 minutes after waking nearly doubled the, already high, risk of lung cancer
    cooed the BBC about the study.  Putting aside their questionable knowledgeable of commas, how 'high' is the risk and how was it doubled?   Only 10% of smokers get lung cancer, a really low number since we have been taught from birth that if you smoke you will get lung cancer.  I mean, you are inhaling a carcinogen every day for decades, it can't be good for you.  That only 10% of smokers get cancer is a medical miracle to me. But 50% of people with lung cancer never smoked.   You may mentally think, 'well, that means smoking is doubling the lung cancer patients' but we don't know that.  We know X people get lung cancer and X/2 never smoked but we have no idea how many smokers would have gotten lung cancer whether they smoked or not.

    We have risk factors for various things, including types of cancer.   Some day, based on risk factors and individuals, we may find a way to determine the vices people can more safely acquire so they can make an informed choice about acquiring them but it's not here yet.

    Three Penn State College of Medicine researchers (and one from Columbia University) analyzed the self-reported habits of 4,776 smokers with lung cancer and 2,835 smokers without cancer - so they already rigged the numbers a little by having, surprise, nearly 70% more people with lunger cancer in the study.   79% of those who smoked within 30 minutes of waking up were more likely to have lung cancer.    If they waited 60 minutes, though, apparently they were okay?  The numbers dropped off a lot then.

    Conclusion; smoking first thing in the morning was worse.  If you are looking for evidence-based science in medicine, apparently Cancer magazine is not the place to find it.    The explanation by the authors, even while they conceded "It is uncertain what explanation there is for the relationship"?   Smokers who get up and smoke right away must inhale more smoke.   Because more smoke will lead to more cancer.  Oh boy.
    Dr Joshua Muscar, lead researcher, said: "These smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body, and they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more."
    Who is that guy?   Well, the BBC article got his name wrong too.  Basically, the whole article by whoever wrote it seems to be an excuse for the BBC to quote Cancer Research UK on how bad smoking is.   If they can't even get the lead researcher's name right, and they supposedly interviewed him, I have to worry about their quality in general.

    No, I won't worry any more, I've gone ahead and changed my mind; the BBC is far worse for health knowledge than the New York Times - that BBC article mostly reads like a paid advertisement for an anti-smoking advocacy group and the NY Times has done a lot of things wrong but I don't think they accept articles for money.

    We've reached the saturation point on anti-smoking hysteria so we should just lighten up or ban cigarettes - people will still smoke if we ban cigarettes but now we have learned that sniffer dogs can be used to detect lung cancer.   So if someone gets busted with a canine lung cancer smell test, we can just arrest them for illegally smoking, since we know that is how they must have contracted it.  And they probably acquired their cancer that morning.

    Citations:

    Joshua E. Muscat, Kwangmi Ahn, John P. Richie Jr and Steven D. Stellman, 'Nicotine dependence phenotype, time to first cigarette, and risk of head and neck cancer',  Cancer 8 AUG 2011, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26235

    Joshua E. Muscat, Kwangmi Ahn, John P. Richie Jr and Steven D. Stellman, 'Nicotine dependence phenotype and lung cancer risk', Cancer 8 AUG 2011, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26236

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well the oldest woman in the world was Jeanne Calment who smoked 2 cigarettes a day and lived to 122, which is partly why I smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes a week when I'm in the mood, normally at a party.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    ...who smoked 2 cigarettes a day and lived to 122...
    ... and how is this relevant to anything?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well, I know its only anecdotal but she was the oldest woman in the world and it fits in with the hormesis hypothesis that low doses of toxins or other stressors might activate the repair mechanisms of the body :-
    The repair process fixes not only the damage caused by the toxin, but also other low-level damage that might have accumulated before without triggering the repair mechanism....
    One of the areas where the concept of hormesis has been explored extensively with respect to its applicability is aging. Since the basic survival capacity of any biological system depends on its homeodynamic (homeostatic) ability, biogerontologists proposed that exposing cells and organisms to mild stress should result in the adaptive or hormetic response with various biological benefits. This idea has now gathered a large body of supportive evidence showing that repetitive mild stress exposure has anti-aging effects.
    I just thought it was interesting. Also, apparently she had her one or two cigarettes with a glass of port after dinner at night time, that is relevant isn't it? 

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    You're a bit weak on the scientific aspects of this.  You always find the strangest connections to try and rationalize.

    As for hormesis ... why not simply some lucky mutations brought on by random cosmic rays?
    Mundus vult decipi
    To play devil's advocate, I wlll propose a pseudo-scientific explanation.

    From what I have observed of smokers, the mornings are generally filled with coughing and hacking (provided they have been smoking long enough). Perhaps the act of coughing opens up the air sacs and allows more smoke in, leading to a greater absorption of carcinogens.

    Other explanation I will offer is behavioral: If you wake up and smoke right away you are a pretty heavy smoker indeed. It is possible that the longer one smokes the stronger the craving in the morning, and hence the sooner they will smoke.

    Again, just playing devil's advocate.

    Hank
    Right, and that is the problem (they do it also) - we're forced to come up with fuzzy explanations to match a conclusion instead of accepting that the conclusion is wrong.   It's classic matching of data to the topology of the outcome but if you call them on it you are in favor of lung cancer.

    Anti-smoking research today is as one-sided as tobacco company research of the 1950s.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...79% of those who smoked within 30 minutes of waking up were more likely to have lung cancer.    If they waited 60 minutes, though, apparently they were okay?  The numbers dropped off a lot then.
    If this wasn't supposed to be science, it would be just silly.  Perhaps we could argue that it was waking up before 7:00 AM?  Perhaps it is related to drinking coffee before one has a cigarette (or after)?  Oh ... wait, I have it!   You only get lung cancer if you smoke on the half hour! 

    Perhaps it's simply a ridiculous assertion with no basis in any known facts?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Yeah, you see my point - that is why I compare it to skewed tobacco company research 50 years ago.   They could have picked brunch of people named 'Fred' and gotten a correlation.  I am not sure which was worse, though, the studies or the BBC article about them.
    Gerhard Adam
    This is part of the problem I have with much of what passes for science.  The issue is that there are too many areas of investigation that are not being pursued because of scientific interest, but rather because there is a political or commercial interest in promoting one view or another.  As a result, it politicizes science because it requires (or attracts) researchers that may begin biased towards the particular objective being investigated.

    After all, what is the scientific benefit of researching smoking?  It isn't as if anyone is actually investigating the active mechanisms that smoking may affect in any biological sense.  We simply get a series of ill-defined, general ... "oooh, it's bad for you" kind of pronouncements that are more embarrassing than they are scientific.
    Mundus vult decipi