Death Toll from Smoking Higher Than Previously Thought

By May Wilkerson 06/17/15

Cigarette smoking continues to cause numerous deaths from multiple cancers.

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According to new research, smoking cigarettes may be even more dangerous than previously thought.

In addition to the well-known lung cancer risk, a study published this week in the the JAMA Internal Medicine also links the habit to cancers of the esophagus, colon, bladder, and eight other parts of the body.

The research estimates that nearly half of all U.S. cancer deaths in people aged 35 and up in 2011 were associated with tobacco smoking. That’s approximately 167,805 cancer deaths a year from tobacco-related illnesses.

In 2014, a U.S. Surgeon General’s Report said the toll of death and disease from tobacco had significantly decreased in recent years thanks to the success of anti-smoking advocacy. But this report only examined deaths from lung cancer and not other forms of cancer related to smoking.

This new study found that smoking prevalence declined from 23.2% in 2000 to 18.1% in 2012. But despite this decline, there has been less progress in reducing smoking-related deaths than was previously reported.

“Cigarette smoking continues to cause numerous deaths from multiple cancers despite half a century of decreasing prevalence,” wrote study co-author Rebecca L. Siegel, from the American Cancer Society. Researchers called for more "comprehensive tobacco control, including targeted cessation support" in order to reduce smoking-related deaths.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.