Smoking-Related Deaths Significantly Underestimated: Study
The number of Americans who die from smoking-related diseases is significantly higher than previously estimated, according to a new study. The researchers say 60,000 additional deaths annually should be added to the almost half a million already attributed to smoking.
The study also adds at least five diseases to the list of 21 illnesses caused by smoking, The New York Times reports. Well-known smoking-related diseases include lung cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease and stroke. The study added kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, significantly increased risks of infection, and heart and lung diseases that were not previously linked to tobacco.
The researchers analyzed health data from almost one million people who were followed for 10 years, the article notes.
“The smoking epidemic is still ongoing, and there is a need to evaluate how smoking is hurting us as a society, to support clinicians and policy making in public health,” said researcher Brian D. Carter of the American Cancer Society. “It’s not a done story.”
The study appears in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“The number of additional deaths potentially linked to cigarette smoking is substantial,” study co-author Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, said in a news release. “In our study, many excess deaths among smokers were from disease categories that are not currently established as caused by smoking, and we believe there is strong evidence that many of these deaths may have been caused by smoking. If the same is true nationwide, then cigarette smoking may be killing about 60,000 more Americans each year than previously estimated, a number greater than the total number who die each year of influenza or liver disease.”