Cigarettes & Cancer Deaths

Cancer deaths that are attributable to cigarette smoking varies across the United State but has reached nearly 40% of the cancer deaths in men that were connected to smoking, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Currently there are around 40 million current adult cigarette smokers in the U.S. and this still remains the largest contributor to cancer and other diseases. An estimated 28.7% of all cancer deaths in 2010 were attributed to cigarette smoking.

Author Joannie Lortet-Tieulent, M.Sc., of the American Cancer Society of Atlanta and her coauthors, have estimated the population-attributable fraction of cancer deaths due to cigarette smoking, using relative risks for 12 smoking-related cancers and state-specific from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. These estimates are:

  • 167,133 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2014 were attributable to cigarette smoking

  • In men, the proportion of cancer deaths attributable to smoking ranged from a low of 21.8% in Utah to a high of 39.5% in Arkansas, but was at least about 30% in every state except Utah

  • For men, the estimated proportion of smoking-attributable deaths was nearly 40% in Arkansas (39.5%), Louisiana (38.5%), Kentucky (38.2%) and West Virginia (38.2%).

  • In women, the proportion ranged from 11.1% in Utah to 29% in Kentucky and was at least 20% in all states except in Utah, California and Hawaii

  • Many of the states with the highest proportion of smoking-attributable cancer deaths were in the South, including 9 of the top 10 ranking states for men and 6 of the top 10 ranked states for women for proportion of smoking-attributable cancer deaths.

They also report that the higher smoking-attributable cancer mortality in the South is likely due to its higher historic smoking prevalence, which has prevailed largely because of weaker tobacco control policies and programs. Also, the most affordable cigarettes and least restrictive public smoking policies are found in the South. The smoking attributable cancer in the Southern states might be due also to the disproportionately socioeconomic status that is associated with higher smoking prevalence, along with racial differences in smoking prevalence.

The study may be underestimated according to the authors for deaths attributable to tobacco use as only 12 cancers were included and self-reported data is known to underestimate smoking prevalence.

Control funding, implementing innovative new strategies and strengthening tobacco control policies and programs might increase smoking cessation. This should be federally as well as in all states and localities. These steps might decrease initiation and reduce the future burden of smoking-related cancers.

Now is the time to do what you can to stop yourself and loved ones in working toward ending their smoking habits. Remember, smoking tobacco kills!

–Dr Fredda Branyon

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