Background: The sale of cigars in the United States has been increasing for the past six years. Cigar smoking is a known risk factor for certain cancers and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, unlike the relation between cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease, the association between cigar smoking and cardiovascular disease has not been clearly established.
Methods: We performed a cohort study among 17,774 men 30 to 85 years of age at base line (from 1964 through 1973) who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente health plan and who reported that they had never smoked cigarettes and did not currently smoke a pipe. Those who smoked cigars (1546 men) and those who did not (16,228) were followed from 1971 through the end of 1995 for a first hospitalization for or death from a major cardiovascular disease or COPD, and through the end of 1996 for a diagnosis of cancer.
Results: In multivariate analysis, cigar smokers, as compared with nonsmokers, were at higher risk for coronary heart disease (relative risk, 1.27; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.12 to 1.45), COPD (relative risk, 1.45; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.10 to 1.91), and cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (relative risk, 2.02; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.01 to 4.06) and lung (relative risk, 2.14; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.12 to 4.11), with evidence of dose-response effects. There appeared to be a synergistic relation between cigar smoking and alcohol consumption with respect to the risk of oropharyngeal cancers and cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract.
Conclusions: Independently of other risk factors, regular cigar smoking can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, COPD, and cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract and lung.