Smoking Menthols Increases Stroke Risk

Smoking Menthols Increases Stroke Risk

New research suggests that smoking mentholated cigarettes can double one's risk of having a stroke. This is alarming as 80 percent of African-American smokers smoke menthols.

Published April 17, 2012

We all know that smoking cigarettes is not good for us. But new research suggests that  smoking menthol cigarettes can double one's risk of having a stroke.

Nicholas Vozoris, a clinical associate at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, told Reuters, "They're all bad, but having said that, from a harm-reduction perspective this study does lend to the view of avoiding — at a minimum — mentholated types."

Researchers analyzed survey data from more than 5,000 American smokers — about 26 percent of the smokers were menthol smokers. Reuters reported:

—Of menthol smokers, 3.4 percent said they'd had a stroke, compared to 2.7 percent of nonmenthol smokers.
—Menthol cigarettes did not increase the risk of high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease or heart attack compared to standard cigarettes.
—Despite knowing that when people smoke menthols the inhale process is longer than smoking other cigarettes, researchers could not explain why menthols may have this affect.

What's really interesting is that researchers found this association was stronger among women and non-African-Americans. This is surprising given how popular menthols are among Black Americans. Past data shows that 80 percent of African-American smokers smoke menthols.

But don’t let these findings downplay the negative affect that smoking has on our health.

According to the American Lung Association, Black Americans account for 12 percent of the 46 million adult smokers in the United States. And while Blacks smoke less than whites, African-Americans are more likely to die of lung cancer.

And unfortunately, it's harder for Blacks to quit smoking, especially menthols.

Last November, reported a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found while 59 percent of Black smokers tried to quit, only 3.3 percent actually succeeded — the lowest success rate among all races and ethnicities.

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(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Written by Kellee Terrell


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