The Top 5 Chemicals in Mainstream Cigarette Smoke that cause the Highest Risk of Cancer

  Chemical Compound Cancer Risk
(per cigarette per day)
Health Hazards
1 Butadiene 8.6 E-04 Cancer, reproductive, developmental
2 Chlorinated dioxins 7.0 E-05 Cancer, cardiovascular, reproductive, developmental
3 Acrylonitrile 6.4 E-05 Cancer, respiratory irritation
4 Arsenic 6.0 E-05 Cancer, cardiovascular, reproductive, developmental
5 Acetaldehyde 4.9 E-05 Cancer, respiratory irritation
Tags: Top 5 Highest, Tobacco & Smoking Statistics, Deadliest, Brands & Consumer Products

Sources:  Fowles, J., Bates, M. Noiton, D. (2000). "The Chemical Constituents in Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke: Priorities for Harm Reduction." A Report to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

List Notes: Data is the top 5 cancer risks from individual chemical components in cigarette smoke, specifically Mainstream Smoke. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that is inhaled and then exhaled by the smoker. Risk estimates are calculated on a per cigarette/day basis for a 70 kg person smoking for 35 years out of an average 70 year lifespan, and 100% absorption from mainstream smoke delivery measurements under standard smoking conditions is assumed. No complex toxicokinetic parameters were used (i.e. no synergism or antagonism was assumed). These risk estimates are rough calculations and should be viewed as a means to compare and prioritize relative risks rather than quantify true cancer risk probability.
Chemicals in Mainstream Cigarette Smoke that cause the Highest Risk of Cancer
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 Facts  
  1. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds. Hundreds of these are toxic, and at least 69 are cancer-causing.
  2. To date, no tobacco products have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of tobacco-related disease, improve safety, or cause less harm than other tobacco products.” Food and Drug Administration, US, 2011
  3. Smoking increases the risk of tuberculosis and is responsible for approximately 20% of global TB incidence.
  4. Smokers with HIV are nearly twice as likely to develop respiratory infections, resulting in poorer health outcomes.
  5. Smoking 25 or more cigarettes a day was found to double the risk of type 2 diabetes in males in the US.
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Eriksen M, Mackay J, Ross H. The Tobacco Atlas. Fourth Ed. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; New York, NY: World Lung Foundation; 2012.

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