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Nicotine Tob Res. 2005 Aug;7(4):581-90.

The influence of gender, race, and menthol content on tobacco exposure measures.

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Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Research has suggested that race, gender, and menthol cigarette use influence tobacco-smoke exposure measures and smoking-related disease risk. For example, a high proportion of Black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes and, despite smoking fewer cigarettes per day (CPD) than do Whites, tend to have higher cotinine levels. Additionally, Black males are more at risk for smoking-related lung cancer. High cotinine levels and smoking menthol cigarettes may lead to higher toxin intake, which contributes to increased disease risk. We explored the relationship between tobacco exposure variables (i.e., cotinine, CPD, carbon monoxide [CO], nicotine content, and nicotine dependence) with respect to race, gender, and menthol content in a sample of 307 smokers recruited from the greater Boston area to participate in a smoking cessation treatment trial. The pattern of correlations between tobacco exposure measures and cotinine showed a consistently positive correlation between cotinine and CO in all smokers and a correlation between cotinine and CPD in those who smoked nonmenthol cigarettes. Cotinine and CPD correlations varied by gender and race among menthol cigarette smokers. Consistently, we found a significant gender x race x menthol interaction on salivary cotinine level as well as cotinine/CPD ratio. These findings suggest that the relationship between number of cigarettes consumed and salivary cotinine is more complex than previously believed. It is not sufficient to look at race alone; researchers and clinicians need to look at race and gender concurrently, as well as type of cigarette consumed.

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