Do cigars have the same risk for cancer as cigarettes?

Cigar smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Cigar smoke is possibly more toxic than cigarette smoke because it contains higher levels of a cancer causing substance called nitrosamines. These are released when a cigar is smoked and are found at a higher level than in cigarettes. All cigar and cigarette smokers, whether or not they inhale, directly expose their lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and larynx to smoke and its toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, when saliva containing the chemicals in tobacco smoke is swallowed, the throat is also exposed.

The amount of tobacco, and therefore the toxic chemicals, in cigars and cigarettes can be substantially different. Cigarettes contain less than 1gram of tobacco each. Cigarettes are made from different blends of tobaccos, which are never fermented, and they are wrapped with paper. Most cigarettes take less than 10 minutes to smoke. On the other hand, most cigars are composed primarily of a single type of tobacco which is air-cured and fermented. They have a tobacco wrapper that is not as porous as the cigarette wrapper allowing for a longer smoking time. Three cigar sizes are sold in the United States and contain between 1 gram and 20 grams of tobacco. Some of the larger cigars can take up to 2 hours to smoke and contain the equivalent in tobacco to a pack of cigarettes!

As you can see, cigars are just as damaging as cigarettes if not more in some cases. But please don’t see this as an excuse to choose one over the other. Any tobacco is harmful. The smoke of both is filled with chemicals to do you harm and obviously, the more you smoke the greater the risk. Do yourself and others a favor and choose to quit smoking altogether. It is not an easy task but your dentist or physician would be glad to help you. The payoff is a longer and healthier life for yourself and those around you.

This post is provided on behalf of nationally-recognized Phoenix cosmetic dentist Dr. Arthur Chal, www.chaldentistry.com

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