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Half of all cancer deaths due to cigarette use

A new study has found that around half of all cancer-related deaths can be linked to smoking.

The research, which looked at the deaths of US adults aged 35 and over, used a standard formula to calculate the number of cases of cancer types that would not have occurred if there were no smoking. Adjusting to account for age, race, education level and alcohol use, the researchers determine that their estimates are accurate.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, the analysis found 345,962 cancer deaths in 2011 in the US among adults aged 35 and older, of which 167,805 were associated with smoking.

It found that cancers of the oral cavity, the lung, bronchus, trachea and larynx were all tied to cigarettes.

Speaking to Reuters, Rebecca Siegel, lead author of the study and a researcher at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, said the research proves that there is still a lot of progress to be made against cigarette use.

According to their findings, the majority (80 per cent) of all lung, bronchus and trachea cancer deaths were linked to smoking, while half of oesophagus cancer deaths were also tied to smoking. In addition, the team also found that 47 per cent of oral cancer deaths could be attributed to the lifestyle choice.

However, the researchers say that updated estimates of smoking use are needed as “smoking patterns and the magnitude of the association between smoking and cancer death” have changed during the past ten years.

They also highlight the need to look at the impact of e-cigarettes. Ms Siegel said that they are now the most common form of tobacco use among high school students, though it is unclear how many people are choosing these over cigarettes.

Co-lead author, Elyse Park, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, added: “Primary care providers can assist smokers, particularly smokers with a heavy smoking history to boost their confidence and obtain the counselling and medication support that can help them improve their odds of successful quitting.”

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