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The Connection Between Smoking and Lung Cancer

The Connection Between Smoking and Lung Cancer

Make no mistake, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death. In 2008, 208,493 in the United States were diagnosed with lung cancer.  This included 111,886 men and 96,607 women. A total of 158,592 people died from the disease that year:  over 88,000 men and over 70,000 thousand women.

What a lot of people still do not know (or do not implement) is that most cases of lung cancer can be prevented.   About 90% cases in men and 80% cases in women are caused by one reason:  cigarette smoking.  Even in this day and age where the awareness of the dangers of cigarette smoking is at an all time high, the figures for lung cancer related cases and deaths are extremely high.

Incidence rates of lung cancer have reduced somewhat since the mid-90s (more for men than for women) because of increased awareness.  However, percentage mortality rates remain extremely high for a cancer that is probably one of the most difficult to treat.

There are still many smokers out there, and sharing this information with someone who smokes could save their life.

The Odds of Getting Lung & Other Cancers

So what are the odds?  Smokers are 23 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers.  Lung cancer is not the only cancer caused or connected to smoking – according to The Surgeon General’s report  (2004), the following cancers are also connected to smoking:  oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung, stomach, cervix, kidney, pancreas and bladder.   It is also connected to AML (acute myeloid leukemia).
Cigarette smoking has been identified as the biggest cause of esophageal cancer in the United States, a very serious cancer that is extremely difficult to resolve.  Every year about 12,300 esophageal cancer cases occur, and 12,100 die from this cancer.

What Makes Cigarettes Harmful?

Why are cigarettes so injurious to health?  Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals out of which 40 are known cancer causing substances.  As you smoke more (quantity and how long), the risk factor keeps increasing.  Using low tar cigarettes is not of any value, since it does not minimize the effect of the carcinogens.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.  It negatively impacts you if you are a smoker, but also everyone around you – your spouse, your children, unborn babies and any seniors that you live with.

When Is the Right Time to Quit?

If you have smoked for years, and the argument is – what is the point to quit now, the damage is done!  The good news:  while it does not vanish, the risk drops if you quit completely.  According to a recent report, quitting smoking can reduce the risk from dying from lung cancer by up to 70%.  This finding was based on a study of 500,000 adults in the Asia-Pacific region, and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Even if you have symptoms of incipient disease, or are a confirmed lung cancer patient, quitting smoking will only help your cause.  So quitting smoking is a worthwhile undertaking regardless of where you are at in terms of your health.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004.

Martin, T.  Cancer Statistics, Smoking and Cancer – Statistics for the U.S. published in in 2005.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website,

Quitting Smoking Reduces Risk of Lung Cancer Mortality By 70 Percent.  Science Daily, Mar 26 2007.

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