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E. Lung Cancer and Mentholated Cigarettes: Is there a Link?

Narrator: This is Science Today. African American smokers develop lung cancer more often than smokers of other races and are far more likely to smoke mentholated cigarettes. Dr. Neal Benowitz, of the University of California, San Francisco, is trying to find out whether there is a connection between the two. Benowitz found that Asian Americans metabolize nicotine more slowly than Caucasians, which helps explain their lower cancer rates. But the opposite does not hold true for African Americans.

Benowitz: African Americans did not have a different metabolism. They were not faster. So for African Americans, it did not explain why they take in more nicotine per cigarette. Why they do is not clear. We are interested in whether it's because there is a greater use of mentholated cigarettes among African Americans.

Narrator: Seventy-five percent of African American smokers smoke mentholated cigarettes. Only ten percent of Caucasian smokers do.

Benowitz: If we find that mentholated cigarette smoking is associated with a greater intake of smoke per cigarette, we can advise people not to smoke mentholated cigarettes.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.