American-Made Cigarettes May Be More Cancerous, CDC Finds

American-made cigarettes contain higher levels of carcinogens, CDC finds.

ByABC News
June 1, 2010, 4:24 PM

June 2, 2010— -- Smokers beware: "Made in the U.S.A" may mean a higher dose of a major carcinogen, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of cancer no matter where in the world your smokes come from, but a CDC study finds that those puffing on American-made products may receive up to three times the level of carcinogenic nitrosamines as those smoking foreign brands.

Levels of nitrosamines, a major cancer-causing agent in cigarettes, absorbed by daily smokers in a 24-hour period were compared for 126 smokers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia.

Only those who smoked the most popular brands in their countries were included in the study, which in the United States included those who preferred Marlboro, Newport, and Camel varieties, according to the study.

"People smoking the U.S. brand cigarettes [we tested] received a level of this carcinogen in their mouth and lungs that was three times higher compared to smokers in Canada and Australia," says Dr. James Pirkle, deputy director for science at the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

Eventually, this information may help guide how American cigarettes are made in the future, a practice that thanks to last year's tobacco bill, is now regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"This is important information, I'm confident the FDA will pay a lot of attention to it," Pirkle says.

But American smokers shouldn't run out to buy the foreign brands just yet, tobacco experts say.

"This study should not be taken lightly," says Dr. John Spangler, director of tobacco intervention programs at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, but it only looks at nitrosamines -- "not the two dozen other cancer causing toxins" in cigarettes.

"People might think that by switching brands, they will improve their health outcomes," he says, but it's too early in the research to know whether this might the case.