CBS news reports on the unknown dangers of smoking.

Experts report that surveys show that many Americans are unaware of all of the dangers and that some risks have been unknown to everyone in the general public until now.

Which diseases are tied to smoking that you probably did not known about?

Well breast cancer, prostate cancer, and even routine infections are among them just to name a few. A new report connects these and other diseases to smoking and shows an additional 60,000 to 120,000 deaths each year in the United States are probably caused by the use of tobacco.

The study was conducted by the American Cancer Society.

It was just published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Around 480,000 American deaths related to lung cancer and heart disease are said to be caused by smoking. But this study looked passed that and this set of people to see which other diseases are also caused by smoking.

Dr. Graham Colditz, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, wrote a commentary about the study in the journal.

He said, “Smokers die, on average, more than a decade before nonsmokers, and in the U.S., smoking accounts for one of every five deaths. The report shows that current estimates have substantially underestimated the burden of smoking on society.”

What were the results?

Experts looked at nearly 1 million Americans who were 55 and older taking part in five studies, including the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, which had been going on since 2000. They analyzed the participants' health for about 10 years and compared deaths from many different causes among smokers, never smokers and former smokers. They also factored in other things that could affect risk levels such as consuming alcohol.

CBS explains, “Death rates were two to three times higher among current smokers than among people who never smoked. Most of the excess deaths in smokers were due to 21 diseases already tied to smoking, including 12 types of cancer, heart disease and stroke. But researchers also saw death rates in smokers were twice as high from other conditions such as kidney failure, infections, liver cirrhosis and some respiratory diseases not previously tied to smoking.”

Researchers found it interesting that the report strengthens evidence connecting two common forms of cancer, breast and prostate cancer, to smoking. The research shows that the risk of dying of breast cancer for women who smoke is 30 percent higher when compared with women who do not smoke. And the risk of dying from prostate cancer for men who smoke is 40% higher when compared with men who do not smoke.

How did researchers know that smoking caused these cancer deaths?

“One strong sign that smoking contributed to these deaths was that the risk of dying of these other conditions declined among people who quit smoking. The longer ago they quit, the greater the drop in mortality risk as time went on,” according to CBS.

Gerry Oginski
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