Almost everyone has heard about the health risks of smoking both cigars and cigarettes, and the hazards of secondhand smoke. But which is worse? Do cigar smokers really have the advantage over cigarettes smokers? The answer is a lot more complicated than anyone ever imagined.
A Matter of Degree
Research from the National Cancer Institute shows that the health risks posed by both cigarettes and cigars are highly associated with frequency of use. That is, it is not whether or not you smoke cigarettes or cigars, but how much and how frequently you consume them. People who smoke cigarettes on a daily basis are at a greater risk of developing cancer than people who smoke the occasional cigar. Nevertheless, evidence implies that cigars contain many more carcinogens than cigarettes. It likewise seems that cigar smoke is more toxic than cigarette secondhand smoke. A lot of this is because of the fact that cigars are bigger than cigarettes, and thus create more smoke.
To Inhale or Not?
Debate has as well concentrated on the concern of inhaling nicotine from cigars and cigarettes. Dedicated cigar enthusiasts argue that cigars are less dangerous than cigarettes simply because they do not need you to inhale as much toxins. The National Cancer Institute’s research indicates that both cigar and cigarette smokers are exposed to carcinogens, regardless of whether they inhale or not. Even without inhaling, smokers are still exposing their mouths, tongues, larynxes, and throats to carcinogens. Actually, simply holding an unlit cigar or cigarette between your lips can expose you to carcinogens. Furthermore, when saliva comes in contact with a cigar or cigarette, even momentarily, carcinogens are swallowed. When carcinogens are swallowed, the throat, larynx, and esophagus further become exposed to these toxins and irritants. Cigarette and cigar smokers appear to swallow the same amounts of carcinogens, leading to approximately the same percentage of risk in developing oral and esophageal cancers.
Research shows that the health risks associated with both cigars and cigarettes may be decreased if the degree inhalation is adjusted. Simply because almost all cigarette smokers have a tendency to inhale deeply and smoke on a regular basis, they are at greater risk of acquiring cancer of the larynx. To get a good idea of how inhalation of smoke pertains to health risks, the National Cancer Institute tells us that the lung cancer risk of someone who smokes five cigars a day and inhales moderately has about the same risk as somebody who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day.