The US has put numbers to the well-documented link between cancer and smoking and announced that tobacco use caused 2.4 million cases of cancer in the United States from 1999 to 2004.
As might be expected, lung and bronchial cancer accounted for nearly half the cases, but cancers of the larynx, mouth and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, as well as acute myelogenous leukemia are also caused by tobacco, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found.
"The data in this report provides additional, strong evidence of the serious harm related to tobacco," said Sherri Stewart of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, who led the study. Stewart's team looked at cancer surveys and registries covering 92 percent of the U.S. population.
Kentucky had the highest rates of lung cancer among men and women, while Western states with low rates of smoking also had low rates of cancer. Tobacco-related cancers were more common among blacks, non-Hispanic whites and men, reflecting the groups that use tobacco more, the CDC found.
38 000 non-smokers die from second-hand smoke a year
"Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States and the most prominent cause of cancer," said the CDC's Dr Matthew McKenna. "The tobacco-use epidemic causes a third of the cancers in America."
Tobacco use kills 438 000 people prematurely every year, including 38 000 people who breathe only secondhand smoke, the CDC said.
"Tobacco use causes more deaths each year than alcohol use, car crashes, suicide, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), homicide, and illegal drug use combined," the report reads. "In addition, smoking accounts for $167 billion annually in health care expenditures and productivity losses." – (Reuters Health, September 2008)
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