The most common type of lung cancer called adenocarcinoma has increased over the last 50 years, even as doctors expected a decrease as more smokers have quit the habit. Medical researchers looking into this unexpected trend have found that adenocarcinomas are linked to the use of so-called “light” cigarettes.

A team of of lung oncology, public health and tobacco regulation researchers from cancer centres across the United States have been investigating why adenocarcinomas have been occurring more frequently while other types of lung cancer have been decreasing in relationship to fewer people smoking. The results of their investigation confirms what many have suspected for years – there is no health benefit to smoking high-ventilation or “light” cigarettes, which have been marketed by cigarette manufacturers as healthier options than regular cigarettes. In fact, “light” cigarettes may even cause more harm because of holes in their filters.

Low tar cigarettes have ventilation holes in their filters to allow smokers to inhale more smoke. The researchers found that these filter ventilation holes change how tobacco in a cigarette is burned and produces more carcinogens, which then also allows the smoke to reach the deeper parts of the lung where adenocarcinomas more frequently occur.

The research team reached ths conclusion after analysing literature that included chemistry and toxicology studies, human clinical trials and epidemiological studies of smoking behavior and cancer risk as well as other scientific publications and tobacco company documents.

The authors of the paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute expressed concern about ventilation holes being added to nearly all types of cigarettes manufactured and smoked today. They have also called on the United States Food and Drug Authority to order a complette ban on ventilation holes in cigarettes.