Estimate of tobacco-linked cancer deaths doubled

The association between tobacco smoke and cancer deaths – excluding lung cancer – in men has been vastly underestimated, according to a new study by a University of California – Davis researcher.

The new analysis, appearing in the journal BMC Cancer, linked smoking to more than 70 percent of the cancer deaths among Massachusetts men – an effective doubling of the previous estimate of 34 percent in 2001.

The analysis was carried out using National Center for Health Statistics data to compare death rates from lung cancer to death rates from all other cancers among Massachusetts males. The assessment revealed that the two rates changed in tandem year-by-year from 1979 to 2003, with the strongest association among males aged 30-to-74 years. The study concluded that the very close relationship over twenty-five years between lung and other cancer death rates suggests a single cause for both: tobacco smoke.

“This study provides support for the growing understanding among researchers that smoking is a cause of many more cancer deaths besides lung cancer,” said researcher Bruce Leistikow. “The full impacts of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, have been overlooked in the rush to examine such potential cancer factors as diet and environmental contaminants. As it turns out, much of the answer was probably smoking all along.”

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Source: University of California – Davis

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