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Smoking Menthols May Double Your Risk of Stroke

And the risk may be three times higher for women and non-black smokers.

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For that stroke of "minty freshness." Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

04/10/12

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Cigarettes flavored with menthola substance which triggers a sensation of "minty" coldnesshave been tied to higher stroke risk, according to Canadian researchers. The FDA has long claimed that menthol cigarettes are more hazardous, and results of a new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, confirms thisresearchers found that the risk for stroke more than doubled for those who smoked menthols compared to those who smoke regular cigarettes. And the risk was more than three times higher for women and non-black smokers. Oddly, menthol smokers had no elevated risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, and the lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). "One potential mechanism is that menthol stimulates upper-airway cold receptors, which can increase breath-holding time, which may in turn facilitate the entrance of cigarette particulate matter into the lungs," said lead study author Dr. Nicholas Vozoris of St. Michael's Hospital. "Why smoking mentholated cigarettes would not result in an increase in forms of cardiopulmonary disease, other than stroke, is not clear." Researchers built on data conducted during 2001-2008, from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys on more than 5,000 smokers age 20 and older. The study isn't meant to prove that smoking menthols is worse than smoking other types of cigarettes, but to inform people of the stroke risk that menthols carry. "There is no 'good' cigarette type," Vozoris said. "Smoking any kind of cigarette is bad for one's health, and serves to increase one's risk for a variety of cancers, heart diseases and lung diseases. However, this study shows that smoking mentholated cigarettes may place one at even higher risk for stroke than smoking regular, non-mentholated cigarettes." 

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