Friday, 13 February 2015

U.S. Smoking Deaths May Be Underestimated, Study Suggests


Each year, 60,000 more smokers die from causes that have association with smoking, researchers say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking may be killing more people than even current estimates indicate, a new study suggests.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 480,000 Americans die of smoking-related causes each year, but that figure may be closer to 540,000, researchers from the American Cancer Society report.

While lung cancer takes the largest toll in smoking-related deaths, the additional 60,000 deaths appear to be caused by diseases not typically associated with tobacco, including kidney failure, intestinal disease, heart disease caused by high blood pressure (hypertension), infections, breathing problems, and breast and prostate cancer, they noted.

"The Surgeon General's report claims 480,000 deaths directly caused by smoking, but we think that is really quite a bit off," said lead researcher Brian Carter, an epidemiologist at the cancer society.

"Sixty thousand [extra] deaths is really a lot," he said. "That's more than the number of people killed each year by flu or motor vehicle accidents."

The report was published Feb. 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Though we've made great gains in reducing rates of smoking, tobacco control needs to remain a top health priority. We cannot rest on past tobacco control successes," said Dr. Graham Colditz, a professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and author of an editorial that accompanied the study.

Tobacco needs to remain a top health priority, he said.

"It is the primary cause of preventable disease and death," Colditz said. "And we need to continue to build on the progress we've made and work toward a future endgame for tobacco -- a time when it is all but eliminated as a health issue."

Carter's team used data from five large databases that included nearly 1 million men and women aged 55 and older.

During about 10 years of follow-up, more than 180,000 people died. The death rate among people who smoked was three times higher than among those who never smoked. Most of those deaths were the result of diseases known to be related to smoking, such as certain cancers, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

source : U.S. Smoking Deaths May Be Underestimated, Study Suggests

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