What you do first thing in the morning can make a big difference in your chances of developing a tumor. Research at Penn State found that your early morning habits can increase or decrease cancer-causing chemicals in your blood.
The trick is pretty simple: If you smoke, don’t have a cigarette until you’ve been awake at least 30 minutes. If you live with a smoker, avoid secondhand smoke for at least half an hour after rising in the morning. (Of course, not smoking at all reduces your cancer risk the most.)
“We found that smokers who consume cigarettes immediately after waking have higher levels of NNAL — a metabolite of the tobacco-specific carcinogen NNK — in their blood than smokers who refrain from smoking a half hour or more after waking, regardless of how many cigarettes they smoke per day,” says researcher Steven Branstetter.
The researchers found that about 32 percent of the people in their study smoked their first cigarette of the day within five minutes of waking; 31 percent smoked within six to 30 minutes of waking; 18 percent smoked within 31 to 60 minutes of waking; and 19 percent smoked more than one hour after waking.
“Most importantly, we found that NNAL level was highest among people who smoked the soonest upon waking, regardless of the frequency of smoking and other factors that predict NNAL concentrations,” Branstetter says. “We believe these people who smoke sooner after waking inhale more deeply and more thoroughly, which could explain the higher levels of NNAL in their blood, as well as their higher risk of developing oral or lung cancer.”