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The article “Effect of cigar smoking on the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer in Men” by Iribarren et al. (1999) is a longitudinal study of cigar smokers and the impact of cigar smoking on the men in terms of different diseases. According to the article, cigar smoking had declined during the 1970s but again in the early 90s the trend was reversed as more and more people started smoking cigars. The reason for this increase is because cigars are considered relatively safer then cigarettes, secondly because of media hype about cigar as something glamorous.
This research was a cohort study of 17, 774 men between the ages of 20 and 85, all of these men were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente health plan. They all of these men did not smoke cigarettes or pipe. 1546 men cigar smokers, while 16, 228 did not smoke cigars. These men were followed from 1991 to the end of 1995 and in the case of cancer patients till 1996.
According to the study cigar smokers as compared to non-smokers are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease, COPD and cancers of upper aero-digestive tracts. In addition this study has also shown that there is a synergistic relationship between cigar smoking and alcohol consumption with an added risk of cancer. However this increase in risks is moderate though significant, therefore the increase in cigar smoking is a cause for concern.
Significance of Study
Iribarren et al. (1999) state that the concentration of previous researches has been on cigarette smoking and cigar smoking has been ignored to a large extent. While the studies that have concentrated on cigar smokers in the past, have given mixed results. Some studies have found a relationship between cigar smokers and increased risk of heart disease, while others have found no significant relationship between cigar smokers and heart disease. One study according to Iribarren et al. (1999) concludes that the degree of inhalation also determines the increased risks of these diseases.
With this background it appears that this particular study is important because it focuses on the impact of cigar smoking on men with respect to a range of diseases, including coronary heart disease, COPD, and cancer of upper aero-digestive tracts. This study is about regular smokers and its significance is in terms of increased risk for cigar smokers. But infrequent cigar smoker cannot be made a part of this group. This study had a large sample and it was longitudinal in its approach following the sample over a number of years. In addition since the medical records of all the participants were available the bias was also minimized. Secondly since all of the respondents had equal access to similar healthcare the health status and socioeconomic status were not important. This study is able to clarify the confusion from different outcomes of previous studies, particularly in the case of men, as it is able to conclude that cigar smoking does lead to an increased risk of various diseases mentioned before.
Impact on Society
This paper is important in its conclusion, and in terms of its impact on society, it makes it is clear that the recent increase in cigar smoking is definitely a cause for concern as cigar smoking does lead to moderate increase in risks of coronary heart disease, COPD, and cancer of upper aero-digestive tracts in the case of men. This study has concentrated on men and as the methodology shows that a majority of the men are from the middle class while both the lower and upper classes are underrepresented. If men believe that cigar smoking is safe –as individuals don’t generally tend to inhale the cigar smoke—however the study shows that it does have health risks associated with it. And more importantly the complementary relationship between alcohol consumption and cigar smoking can increase the risk. This study is important as it creates awareness not only within the medical community but different advocacy groups can use it to create awareness about the risks of cigar smoking particularly in men.
Previously it was believed that cigars not as harmful as cigarettes. This conclusion was based on the assumption that since the smoke is not inhaled therefore the impact of cigar smoking is minimal. However this study shows that men who smoke cigars are at a higher risk for not only heart and lung diseases but also for different types of cancers.
Iribarren, C, Tekawa, I S, Sidney, S and Friedman, G D. (1999). Effect of Cigar Smoking on the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Cancer in Men, NEJM, 340(23), p. 1773-1780.