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Did Scientists Discover a Way to Make Cigarettes 'Healthier'?


"It could lead to a less harmful cigarette."

Even though almost all health professionals would say that quitting smoking is the healthiest option, researchers at Cornell University believe they may have found a way to make cigarettes healthier than their current state.

According to their paper published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, the team notes that while tars and other products in the particle phase of cigarette smoke are considered carcinogenic, free radicals are also significant factors that can cause cancer. A free radical, according to Rice University, is an atom with an unpaired electron. These unstable atoms can cause damage to cellular membranes and DNA causing cancer, aging and other diseases.

The Cornell researchers reference studies that have shown haemoglobin and heme-containing compounds as effective at reducing free radicals in cigarette smoke in the past, but the technology was not cost-effective enough to produce. What their current research has found is that using antioxidants from wine or tomatoes byproducts in the cigarette's filter can have a similar trapping effect.

Lycopene extract from tomatoes and grape seed extract from wine making are cheaply produced and readily available. The researchers cut the cigarette filter in half, placed the antioxidant mixture in between the two halves making a "filter-antioxidant-filter sandwich."

According to the research, the antioxidants in these extracts were able to "scavenge" 90 percent of free radicals in the smoke.

TG Daily has more:

"Practically, this research could lead to an alternative type of cigarette filter with a free radical scavenging additive," says Dr. Aaron Kolski-Andreaco, content director of JoVE, where the report appears.

"It could lead to a less harmful cigarette."

Even still, TG Daily notes that the antioxidant filter may only be beneficial for heavier smokers and that the effectiveness of the antioxidant has a short shelf life of about a week.

In a video explaining the research and results on JOVE, the researchers explain how their technique using electron spin resonance spectrometry, compared to other techniques to study free radicals, can also be applied to studying industrial smoke, exhaust and smog.

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