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Most Cancer in Men Linked to Smoking

Jan 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

There is emerging data that more strongly links cancer deaths—well beyond lung cancers—in men to smoking.  A recent study released by a UC Davis researcher linked smoking to the vast majority of cancers in a specific demographic of men in 2003, reported ScienceDaily.

Study lead, Bruce Leistikow, UC Davis associate adjunct professor of public health sciences, wrote that over 70 percent of cancer deaths in Massachusetts men—a 24 percent increase over 2001—are associated with tobacco smoking, said ScienceDaily.  "This study provides support for the growing understanding among researchers that smoking is a cause of many more cancer deaths besides lung cancer.  The full impacts of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, have been overlooked in the rush to examine such potential cancer factors as diet and environmental contaminants.  As it turns out, much of the answer was probably smoking all along," quoted ScienceDaily.  Leistikow’s research is focused on learning more about the causes linked to early death.

For his study, Leistikow used National Center for Health Statistics data and looked at the demographic of Massachusetts men.  Leistikow then compared lung cancer death rates to death rates for all other cancers.  The review revealed that the two rates of cancer deaths—lung cancer and all other cancers—changed collaboratively for each year from 1979 to 2003, said ScienceDaily, which noted that the strongest link occurred among men aged 30-to-74.

While it is an accepted fact that smoking causes most lung cancers, the research team found that during the 25 years studied, the cancer death rates—from a variety of cancers—were all linked to tobacco smoking. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that tobacco is one of the strongest cancer-causing agents and its use is linked to a variety of cancers, chronic lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, with cigarette smoking the number one preventable cause of death in this country.  Smoking has long been linked to cancers of the throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix says the NCI.

Leistikow pointed out that the study findings more closely link tobacco smoking and cancer deaths, not just lung cancer deaths, said SIFY.  "The fact that lung and non-lung cancer death rates are almost perfectly associated means that smokers and nonsmokers alike should do what they can to avoid tobacco smoke.  It also suggests that increased attention should be paid to smoking prevention in health care reforms and health promotion campaigns," said Leistikow, quoted Science Daily.

The study was funded by UC Davis, the Health Research Board (Ireland), and the National Cancer Institute and included research authors Zubair Kabir of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Research Institute for a Tobacco-Free Society (Ireland), Gregory Connolly and Hillel R. Alpert of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Luke Clancy of the Research Institute for a Tobacco-Free Society, reported ScienceDaily.  The epidemiological analysis was published online in BMC Cancer, said SIFY.

Based on the study’s conclusions, Leistikow said that better “tobacco control efforts” would likely prevent even more deaths to cancer than has long been believed.


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