Study Links Clove Cigarettes Ingredient, Toxicity - Experiment Yields Scientific Data Blaming Eugenol for Lung Damage to Animals.
Clove cigarettes, known as "kreteks" in Indonesia, became a fad in the U.S. in the early 1980s. They are still around today.
This June 18, 1985 Los Angeles Times article links the eugenol in clove cigarettes to an increase in hospitalizations among teenagers for respiratory distress.
Documents indicate that eugenol was an additive in tobacco cigarettes for many years.
Eugenol is derived from cloves. It serves as a weak anaesthetic and has been used by dentists as a pain reliever ("clove oil"). Eugenol is listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS) when consumed orally, in unburned form. It is non-toxic in food, but toxic when administered directly to the airways.
Between March, 1984 and May, 1985, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 12 cases of severe illness possibly associated with smoking clove cigarettes. In one case not cited by the CDC, a 17 year old Newport Harbor (California) high school student became short of breath after smoking a clove cigarette and eventually died of respiratory failure. His parents initiated a $25 million lawsuit against the sellers, makers and importers of the clove cigarettes, claiming they were negligent in supplying "dangerous and defective" cigarettes.
Eleven other patients were hospitalized with symptoms of pulmonary edema (blood and fluid-filled lungs), bronchospasm (constriction of the airways), hemoptysis (coughing up blood), nausea and vomiting.
According to the article, Dr. Frederick Schecter, a Whittier, California thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon discovered "a wealth of scientific studies have been conducted on eugenol," and said the chemical has been documented as toxic to cells and pharmacologically active on the central nervous system. He also said eugenol is "sensitizing" (meaning it can induce development of an allergy against itself) and has produced severe allergic reactions in dental patients, manifested by wheezing and shortness of breath.
Quotes from the article:
Preliminary results of an ongoing study of the possible toxic side effects of smoking clove cigarettes show that eugenol--the major component of cloves--can be lethal to animals when administered directly to the lung, the Times has learned.
The independent study by the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, N.Y., provides the first scientific report that links eugenol with observations by physicians on the toxicity of the faddish, pungelnt-smelling imported cigarettes from Indonesia...
..."In a laboratory setting we've shown that symptoms reported by individuals who smoked clove cigarettes--such as spitting up of blood and bronchopneumonia--can also be observed with animals that have been treated with eugenol," said Edmont LaVole, associate division chief of environmental carcinogens at the American Health Foundation, a nonprofit, independent research foundation funded primarily through the National Institutes of Health.
"We found extensive damage occurring to the lungs of the animals in which we have instilled various doses of eugenol," LaVole said. "This provides further evidence that the toxic effects reported for some individuals may be related to the smoking of clove cigarettes."
LaVole said the rats that died during the experiments generally died from hemhorraging and a fluid build-up in the lungs....
Title: Study Links Clove Cigarettes Ingredient, Toxicity - Experiment Yields Scientific Data Blaming Eugenol for Lung Damage to Animals.
Author: McLellan-D Los Angeles Times
Date: 19850618 (June 18, 1985)
Type: Newspaper ; Publication
Collection: Brown & Williamson