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Monday, March 2, 2015
Smoking and Tobacco
Are menthol cigarettes worse for you than regular cigarettes? (Is the "rumor" true that they make your lungs bleed for 7 minutes?)
Burning menthol creates benzo[a]pyrenes which are known human carcinogens. A person who smokes menthol cigarettes commonly inhales deeper than someone smoking nonmenthol cigarette presumably due to the pleasant "cool" sensation felt in the throat and lungs from the menthol. Intuitively, one would assume that the deeper inhalation would carry more carcinogens farther into the lungs causing a greater exposure and therefore, a greater risk of lung cancer.
Unfortunately, a search of the literature was not very revealing. There is a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine from April 10, 1995 noting that the type of cigarette smoked made little difference in cancer rates for women in a 12,000 member population of a large California HMO. The men, however, appeared to be 45% more likely to develop lung cancer than men who smoke nonmentholated cigarettes.
There was no information available regarding bleeding from the lungs due to menthol.
Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati