Yes, cigars can cause lung cancer.
A study published in the British Medical Journal in the 1990s suggested that cigarette smokers were better off switching to cigars or pipes. While subsequent studies have also shown a lower risk of lung cancer among cigar smokers versus cigarette smokers, the risk is still substantial. Cigar smokers are 5 times as likely to develop lung cancer as those who have never smoked. And lung cancer is not the only issue.
Other Cancers Caused by Cigar SmokingCigar smokers are 4 to 10 times as likely as non-smokers to develop cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus, and appear to have an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer as well. Like cigarette smoking, cigar smoking contributes to heart disease.
Secondhand Cigar Smoke is Dangerous
Another factor to consider thoughtfully is secondhand smoke. Cigars produce a greater amount of second-hand smoke than cigarettes. While the risk of cancer to a cigar smoker is lower than that for a cigarette smoker, the risk for exposed non-smokers may be greater.
The best option is to quit smoking, whether that means cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe. Our About.com Guide to Smoking Cessation offers an excellent Quit Smoking Toolbox to get you started.
American Cancer Society. Cigar Smoking. Does Smoking Cigars Raise Your Risk of Cancer and Death. Revised 10/21/09. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/CigarSmoking/cigar-smoking-cancer-and-health
Streppel, M. et al. Mortality and life expectancy in relation to long-term cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking: the Zutphen study. Tobacco Control. 2007. 16(2):107-13.
Wald, N. and H. Watt. Prospective study of effect of switching from cigarettes to pipes or cigars on mortality from three smoking related diseases. British Medical Journal. 1997. 314(7098):1860-3.