Smoking still causes large number of deaths in U.S.

Smoking still causes large number of deaths in U.S.

A recent American Cancer Society study shows that even with significant dropping smoking rates, cigarettes still account for about 3 out of 10 deaths in the United States. The study suggests that efforts to reduce smoking in the U.S. should be considered a top priority in order to prevent cancer deaths.

Over 30 years ago, famous British researchers Richard Doll and Richard Peto calculated that smoking accounted for 30 percent of all deaths in the United States. Since then, there has not been an updated estimate. During that time, smoking rates have decreased, but smoking has also been discovered as a risk factor for more types of cancers.

Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, and a team of researchers set out to provide a more updated estimation for smoking and cancer mortality in the United States. They arrived at a number called the popular attributable fraction (PAF), which is the proportion of cancer deaths in the U.S. caused by smoking.

After a comprehensive estimate, the researchers found that the PAF was about 31.7%. This estimate does not include potential deaths from environmental tobacco smoke, or other types of tobacco products like cigars, pipes, or smokeless tobacco.

The authors note that despite significant declines in smoking rates, the PAF for smoking and cancer death is very similar to the 30% estimated over 30 years ago by Doll and Peto. However, this does not mean that the decrease in smoking rates have not made a significant impact towards reducing cancer deaths. Other factors have contributed to the rising PAF, including new cancers added to the list of those caused by smoking and an increase in deaths of female smokers from lung cancer.

Our results indicate that cigarette smoking causes about three in 10 cancer deaths in the contemporary United States. Reducing smoking prevalence as rapidly as possible should be a top priority for US public health efforts to prevent future cancer deaths,” the authors conclude.

This study was published in the Annals of Epidemiology.

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1. “Smoking Still Causes Large Proportion of Cancer Deaths in the United States.” American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, 9 Dec. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
2. “What Proportion of Cancer Deaths in the Contemporary United States Is Attributable to Cigarette Smoking?Annals of Epidemiology. Annals of Epidemiology, 7 Nov. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.

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