Time between morning wake-up and smoking a cigarette associated with rate of lung cancer risk



Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in humans and the primary cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S. External link Public health experts continue seeking efficient ways to identify smokers at highest risk for lung cancer.


IRP researchers led by Fangyi Gu, M.Med., Sc.D., and Neil Caporaso, M.D., found that people who smoke their first cigarette within five minutes of waking up have more than three times the risk of lung cancer compared with those who wait longer than an hour before their first cigarette of the day. The increased risks were observed for both heavy and light smokers, and the lung cancer rate per “pack-years” of smoking increased faster among smokers who had a shorter time to first cigarette.


Assessing time to a first cigarette may help clinicians quickly assess lung cancer risk. The findings suggest the need for even light smokers to quit, because even light smokers who take their first morning cigarette within 5 minutes can be at substantial risk for developing lung cancer.


Gu F, Wacholder S, Kovalchik S, Panagiotou OA, Reyes-Guzman C, Freedman ND, De Matteis S, Consonni D, Bertazzi PA, Bergen AW, Landi MT, Caporaso NE. (2014). Time to smoke first morning cigarette and lung cancer in a case-control study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 106(6).

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This page was last updated on Friday, June 16, 2023