July 01, 2018

Cigar, pipe smoking carry same risks as cigarettes

When it comes to the health risks of smoking, the focus tends to be on cigarettes. However, a new study shows that while cigar and pipe smoking carry a lower health risk than cigarettes, they are far from being risk-free.

The study, published in the February 2018 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, followed 350,000 people who exclusively used cigars, pipes or cigarettes, or who never used tobacco. Researchers found that those who smoked cigars had a 20 percent higher risk of premature death from all causes.

The study showed similar findings with death from cancers linked to tobacco use — including cancers of the bladder, esophagus, larynx, lung, mouth and throat (oral cavity), and pancreas. Cigar smokers had a 61 percent higher risk of dying of these cancers, and pipe smokers had a 58 percent higher risk. Current cigar smokers had more than a 300 percent higher risk of dying of lung cancer, while pipe smokers had an almost 50 percent higher risk of dying of lung cancer.

Because cigar and pipe smoke typically isn't inhaled as fully as cigarette smoke, some believe cigars and pipes are safer. The fact is these forms of tobacco still expose you to tar, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) and other toxins, putting you at risk of cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular disease and gum disease. Cigars and pipes also release harmful secondhand smoke. The study reinforces the fact that there's no safe form of tobacco.