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Study Finds Mentholated Cigarettes No More Harmful than Regular Cigarettes

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The FDA banned all fruit-flavored cigarettes in September of 2009 and is now considering a ban on menthol-flavored ones, which were not included in the 2009 ban.  The impetus for the ban was the idea that flavored cigarettes are more enticing to children. 

But are they more dangerous? A new study suggests that smokers of mentholated cigarettes are no more likely to develop lung cancer than other smokers.

Over 85,000 adults were categorized according to their preference for menthol versus non-menthol cigarettes. They were then followed for up to four years, during which time their rates of quitting and lung cancer were assessed. 

Researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that menthol smokers claimed to have fewer cigarettes per day compared to regular smokers. While smoking any kind of cigarette is unhealthy, the lung cancer risk for menthol smokers was 12 times greater than that for non-smokers.  However, non-menthol smokers had a lung cancer risk 21 times that of non-smokers. 

The authors concluded that smoking menthol cigarettes is no more likely, and perhaps even less likely, to cause lung cancer than smoking regular cigarettes.
Critics of the study say that the fact remains that the bigger issue is whether flavoring cigarettes increases the appeal to children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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