Smoking kills more people than thought
New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that smoking is killing more people than it is blamed for.
The study, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, found that tens of thousands of deaths are unaccounted for in yearly estimates because they are the result of diseases related to cigarette smoking that aren't on the list of smoking-related diseases.
Researchers looked at data over a 10-year period for almost 1 million Americans older than 55. They found that smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never smoked and that most of those deaths were directly tied to cigarette-related diseases, such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and COPD. But they also determined that another 17 percent of the deaths among smokers were caused by diseases that are related to cigarette use, but aren't among those on the list of diseases directly tied to smoking. These include kidney failure, infections, hypertensive heart disease and, to a lesser degree, breast and prostate cancer. The researchers estimated that these cases could be responsible for another 60,000 American deaths every year.
The scientists said that despite strong evidence, some diseases are not included on the smoking deaths list because they may not be a direct result of cigarette use. However, researchers found that those who gave up smoking quickly decreased their risk of death from the excluded diseases.