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Shorter Time to First Cigarette Boosts Lung Cancer Risk

Update Date: Jun 19, 2014 08:38 PM EDT

Smoking early in the morning may increase the risk of lung cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who spent less time smoking their first cigarette of the day were more likely to develop lung cancer.

Factors like number of cigarettes smoked per day, duration of smoking and pack years are standard markers of nicotine dependency. However, researchers said the latest findings also suggest that time to first cigarette of the time can also predict risk of lung cancer.

The latest study involved data from the Environment and Genetics in Lung Cancer Etiology (EAGLE) study of current and former smokers in Italy and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer screening trial in the United States. Participants filed out questionnaires about their smoking history and habits and to answer the question, "How soon after you wake up do you usually smoke your first cigarette of the day?"

Participants were then categorized into different groups: 5 or fewer, 6-30, 31-60, and more than 60 minutes.

The latest study involved a sample of 3,249 ever smokers from the EAGLE study. Researchers said that 1.812 were lung cancer patients and 1,437 were control subjects matched by residence, sex and age. Researchers also accounted for smoking intensity, duration and other lung cancer risk factors.

The findings revealed that the risk of lung cancer was statistically significantly higher in smokers who smoked earlier upon rising. Researchers said this was true for both current and former smokers.

"Assessing TTFC may improve lung cancer risk prediction and could be useful in lung cancer screening and smoking cessation programs," researchers concluded.

The findings were published June 19 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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