Skip to main content

Smoking tobacco cigarettes is responsible for drastically increasing the risk of the developing lung cancer— the number-one cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S—as well as several other types of cancer (not to mention additional diseases).1 Although the incidence of heavy smoking has declined in recent years, smoking is still a major health problem for those who smoke and those who live with them.2,3

Tobacco use, primarily from cigarettes, is considered the single most preventable cause of death in this country. It is estimated that one-third of all cancer deaths would be eliminated if people did not smoke.

Lung CancerConnect 490

Smoking cigarettes is more harmful than smoking cigars or pipes, largely due to inhalation methods.4

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 44.5 million people in the U.S. are smokers, and approximately 8.6 million of these individuals currently have a chronic disease that is directly related to smoking.5

Among smokers, African Americans and Native Hawaiians appear to be more susceptible to developing lung cancer than whites, Japanese Americans, and Latinos.6

Research shows that individuals who quit or reduce smoking decrease their risk of developing lung cancer, and Quitting smoking after a diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and death.7

Smoking Increases the Risk of Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

In the first study, researchers affiliated with the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that “environmental tobacco smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, particularly in ex-smokers.”  Researchers from Hong Kong also “found significant dose-dependent associations between passive smoking and mortality from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and from all cancers, all respiratory and circulatory diseases, and all causes.”8,9

Women Married to Smokers Have Increased Risk of Lung Cancer

According to the results of a combined analysis of previously published studies, nonsmoking women married to men who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmoking women married to nonsmoking men. These results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Exposure to second-hand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS) is the third-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is thought to account for roughly 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year, 1,000 of which occur in nonsmokers.10

Environmental tobacco smoke is classified as a known human carcinogen by both the U.S. National Toxicology Program as well as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization).11,12

To summarize the available evidence regarding the link between risk of lung cancer and marriage to a smoker, researchers combined information from 55 previously published studies.13 The analysis focused on risk of lung cancer among nonsmoking women married to men who smoke.

  • Compared to nonsmoking women married to nonsmoking men, risk of lung cancer was 27% higher among nonsmoking women married to men who smoke.
  • An increased risk of lung cancer among nonsmoking women married to men who smoke was observed in studies conducted in North America, Asia, and Europe.

These results provide additional evidence that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer. The researchers conclude: “The abundance of evidence, consistency of finding across continent and study type, dose-response relationship and biological plausibility, overwhelmingly support the existence of a causal relationship between passive smoking and lung cancer.”

Female Smokers

Females who smoke have approximately twice the risk of developing lung cancer but approximately half the risk of dying from the disease when compared to male smokers.

Lung cancer claims more women’s lives than breast cancer and colon cancer combined. But, despite this statistic, research has indicated that women diagnosed with lung cancer appear to have better survival compared to men diagnosed with the disease; researchers continue to evaluate differences between men and women and their susceptibilities to cancers as well as outcomes.

Researchers affiliated with the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program recently conducted a study to evaluate potential differences among men and women who smoke in regards to incidence and outcomes of lung cancer. This study included 9,427 men and 7,498 women who had participated in a study evaluating the effectiveness of computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer. Participants were 40 years of age or older and were all smokers.

  • Women were diagnosed with lung cancer approximately twice as frequently as men (2.1% versus 1.2%, respectively).
  • Death from lung cancer was approximately 50% lower among women than men.

The researchers concluded that women who smoke appear to have a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer than men who smoke; however, their risk of death from the disease is significantly lower than that of men.14

But, even with the known risk factors associated with smoking, quitting the habit can be incredibly difficult. In response, smoking cessation programs have been designed to help people quit smoking and improve their overall health. However, there’s much room for improving the methods smokers use to quit their addictive habit.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Chantrix® is one medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help ease the difficulties in quitting smoking.

How Chantrix Helps Smokers Quit

Nicotine from cigarette smoke binds to nicotine receptors in cells of the brain. This binding initiates a biologic cascade that results in a nearly immediate release of dopamine into circulation. This dopamine release creates the feelings that smokers crave.

Chantix is an oral agent that binds to nicotine receptors and thus prevents nicotine itself from binding to these receptors. Chantix produces effects similar to those caused by nicotine; this action reduces withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. In addition, if the individual resumes smoking, use of Chantix will block effects of nicotine from cigarettes.

There were six clinical trials that prompted FDA approval of Chantix.3 The trials included a total of nearly 3,660 smokers who were chronic users of cigarettes. Five of these trials directly compared Chantix to placebo (inactive substitute). Participants in these trials have averaged 21 cigarettes per day for approximately 25 years.

  • In these studies, individuals were more likely to quit smoking if treated with Chantix than placebo.
  • In one phase III trial, individuals were more likely to quit smoking if treated with Chantix than with Zyban® (medication used for smoking-cessation) or placebo.
  • At one year, however, only 20% of patients treated with Chantix remained smoke-free.

Chantix is approved for a 12-week course. Patients who successfully quit smoking in these 12 weeks may receive an additional 12 weeks of Chantix to further improve their chances of long-term smoking cessation.

E Cigs

E-cigarettes can be highly addictive, and kids who use them are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes, concluded a panel of public health experts.

A report released this week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is one of the most comprehensive evaluations of existing research on e-cigarettes.

The report found that e-cigarettes may help adults switch from conventional tobacco-containing cigarettes, and that while the devices are probably less harmful than regular cigarettes, more research is needed, especially to determine the long-term health effects.

“When it got down to answering the questions about what the impacts on health are, there is still a lot to be learned,” said David Eaton, of the University of Washington, who led the committee that reviewed the existing research and issued the report. “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful.”

What health experts find concerning from the report is that teens and young adults who use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are more likely to try conventional cigarettes. And use of e-cigarettes among U.S. high school students is on the rise, jumping from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent by 2016.

Researchers have theorized that one reason for the high usage among teens is the way e-cigarettes are marketed, often by promoting flavors like strawberries and cream that are popular among younger users.

Lung Newsletter 490

A 2016 study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that flavored e-cigarette products are used by nearly two-thirds of e-cigarette users. In addition, 44 percent of e-cigarette users reported experimenting with e-cigarettes because of the availability of flavors.

Yet there is still not enough long-term evidence to conclusively determine whether young people are just experimenting with e-cigarettes or becoming habitual smokers, according to the report.

In conclusion, quitting smoking not only improves your own health, but the health of those around you, including your children. Now, with the help of Chantrix, smoking cessation may be an attainable goal for many more people, making for a healthier population.

If you are a current smoker, you may wish to ask your physician about Chantrix in combination with a comprehensive smoking cessation program. It is never too late to reap the benefits of quitting smoking.

Keep Current with Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment Here.

References:

  1. National Cancer Institute. Cigarette Smoking and Cancer: Questions and Answers. Available here.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Tobacco Facts. Last updated: .
  3. Pierce JP, Messer K, White MM, Cowling DW, Thomas DP. Prevalence of Heavy Smoking in California and the United States, 1965-2007.
  4. Funck-Brentano C, Raphael M, Lafontaine M, et al. Effects of Type of Smoking (Pipe, Cigars or Cigarettes) on Biological Indices of Tobacco Exposure and Toxicity. Lung Cancer. 2006; 54: 11-18
  5. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS). Available at: cdc.gov/tobacco/news/QuitSmoking.htm. Accessed May 2006)
  6. Haiman C, Stram D, Wilkens L, et al. Ethnic and Racial Differences in the Smoking-Related Risk of Lung Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006; 354:333-34
  7. Parsons A, Begh R, Aveyard P. Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. British Medical Journal [early online publication]. January 21, 2010.
  8. Vineis P, Airoldi L, Veglia P, et al. Environmental tobacco smoke and risk of respiratory cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in former smokers and never smokers in the EPIC prospective study. British Medical Journal. 2005;330:277-287.
  9. McGhee SM, Ho SY, Schooling M, et al. Mortality associated with passive smoking in Hong Kong. British Medical Journal . 2005;330:287-288.
  10. US Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor Air – Radon. Health Risks. Exposure to Radon Causes Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers and Smokers Alike. . (Accessed January 8, 2008).
  11. Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.
  12. International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 83. Tobacco Smoke and Involuntary Smoking. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. Available here (Accessed January 8, 2008)
  13. Taylor R, Najafi F, Dobson A. Meta-analysis of studies of passive smoking and lung cancer: effects of study type and continent. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2007;36:1048-1059.
  14. International Early Lung Cancer Action Program Investigators. Women’s susceptibility to tobacco carcinogens and survival after diagnosis of lung cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2006;296:180-184.
  15. United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA Approves Novel Medication for Smoking Cessation. Available at: fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01370.html.