Smoking and Cancer: Understand the Risk and What You Can Do to Control It
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. (1a,b)
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.
smoking cigarettes is more harmful than smoking cigars or pipes, largely due to inhalation methods. (ee)
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. (2)
Among smokers, African Americans and Native Hawaiians appear to be more susceptible to developing lung cancer than whites, Japanese Americans, and Latinos.(2a)
Research shows that individuals who quit or reduce smoking decrease their risk of developing lung cancer. (w) and Quitting smoking after a diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and death. (OO)
OO 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.
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.” (y) Researchers from Hong Kong also “found significant dose-dependent associations between passive smoking and mortality from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, and from all cancers, all respiratory and circulatory diseases, and all causes.”(z)
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.
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).
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. 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.”
Radon | US EPA
Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water.
 Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.
 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)
 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.
According to an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 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.
Reference: 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.
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.
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.
xxxx Source: UC San Diego Health Science News
Smoking Cessation Drug Not Boosting Number of Smokers Who Quit
The introduction of a new prescription smoking-cessation aid, varenicline, in 2006 has had no significant impact on the rate at which Americans age 18 and older successfully quit smoking, according to a study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
The findings, published online August 17 in Tobacco Control, suggest that the primary effect of varenicline
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.
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. You can click here to find vapes and vaporizers.
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.
1.Smoking causes the deadliest form of cancer.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among women (after breast cancer), but it takes almost twice as many lives, making it the deadliest diagnosis a woman will face. With more than 85 percent of all lung cancer cases related to tobacco, smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and the number of cigarettes a person has smoked. The disease occurs most frequently among people older than age 50, especially those with a smoking history. Tragically, the majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer will die of the disease, especially if they were diagnosed when the cancer had already spread outside of the lung.
2.Even nonsmokers are at risk.
While heavy smokers are at the highest risk for lung cancer, nonsmokers or former smokers are also at risk. Nearly 60 percent of all lung cancers are diagnosed in people who have already stopped smoking. Exposure to environmental carcinogens can also increase the risk.
If possible limit your exposure to all of the following:
- Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks
- Chemicals or minerals, such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and silica
- Diesel exhaust
- Radiation exposure from occupational, medical, or environmental sources
3.It is not too late to quit smoking and decrease your risk.
According to the American Cancer Society, 20 minutes after you quit smoking, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Two to three months after you quit, your lung function and circulation improve; and one to nine months after you quit, you experience less coughing and shortness of breath. Just five years after you quit, your risk of these cancers is cut in half: mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder. Ten years after you quit, your risk of dying from lung cancer is half the risk of someone who is still smoking. Even if you quit smoking at age 65, you can gain an extra four years of life compared with someone of a similar age who continues to smoke cigarettes.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan for high-risk individuals. Women who are 55 to 80 years old and smoked at least an estimated one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years should consider screening.
5.Know the warning signs.
Sadly, lung cancer is such a deadly disease because its symptoms can be easily masked. You should seek medical care if you are coughing up blood or experiencing chest pain, sudden weight loss or loss of appetite, or a chronic cough that won’t go away.
If understanding your increased risks associated with smoking doesn’t give you enough incentive to quite smoking, do it for your family and friends. Exposure to second-hand smoke (ETS) is the third-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. It is thought to account for roughly 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year, 1,000 of which occur in nonsmokers.1
A recent study indicated that carcinogens (cancer-causing particles) in second-hand cigarette smoke can be found in infant’s urine. (4)
One way to assess the extent of an individual’s exposure to ETS is to measure markers of tobacco exposure in urine. Cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke are processed (metabolized) by the body, and the products that result from this process can be detected in urine.
One of the known cancer-causing agents in tobacco is NNK (4-[methylnitrosamino]-1-[3-pyridyl]-1-butanone). In order to test infants for exposure to this agent, researchers conducted a study among 144 infants who lived in homes where at least one parent smoked. The infants were between the ages of three and 12 months. Urine samples from the infants were tested for a marker of NNK uptake by the body, known as total NNAL.
- Total NNAL was detected in the urine of 67 of the 144 infants (46.5%).
- Among infants with detectable NNAL, the average number of cigarettes smoked each week by family members in the presence of the infant was 76.
- Among infants with undetectable NNAL, the average number of cigarettes smoked each week by family members in the presence of the infant was 27.
- The average level of NNAL detected in these infants was higher than the level detected in most studies of ETS exposure in adults. The researchers speculate that this higher level of exposure in infants may result from the proximity of infants to smoking mothers.
The researchers conclude that “the results of this study show substantial uptake of NNK in infants exposed to ETS and support the concept that persistent ETS exposure in childhood could be related to cancer later in life.”
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.
- National Cancer Institute. Cigarette Smoking and Cancer: Questions and Answers. Available here.
1a National Cancer Institute. Tobacco Facts. Last updated: 11/12/2010.
1b Pierce JP, Messer K, White MM, Cowling DW, Thomas DP. Prevalence of Heavy Smoking in California and the United States, 1965-2007.
ee. 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.
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS). Available at: cdc.gov/tobacco/news/QuitSmoking.htm. Accessed May 2006)
- w Godtfredsen N, Prescott E, Osler M. Effect of Smoking Reduction on Lung Cancer Risk. Journal of the American Medical Assocation. 2005; 294:1505-1510.
2a 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; 354:333-342.
y 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.
z McGhee SM, Ho SY, Schooling M, et al. Mortality associated with passive smoking in Hong Kong. British Medical Journal . 2005;330:287-288.
- United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA Approves Novel Medication for Smoking Cessation. Available at: fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01370.html. Accessed May 2006)
- Hecht SS, Carmella SG, Le K-A et al. 4-(Methylnitrosoamino)-1-(3-Pyridyl)-1-Butanol and its Glucuronides in the Urine of Infants Exposed to Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. 2006;15:988-92.