Here’s yet another excellent reason to quit smoking. Besides the litany of illnesses they are directly responsible for, cigarettes also play an intimate role in deaths due to cancer. Harvard researchers believe that smoking is the world’s biggest preventable cause of cancer deaths.
In a study published this year in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers looked at statistics from the year 2000. About 1.4 million people across the world died of cancer that year. One in five died (21%) because smoking triggered their tumors.
In this study, they wanted to go beyond the well-understood fact that smoking causes cancer. They wanted to see how, on a global and regional scale, smoking contributed to and affected the mortality rate associated with cancer.
They looked at two databases of cancer deaths from the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization. Of the 1.42 million cancer deaths in 2000, there was a gaping chasm between men and women: 1.18 million and 0.24 million respectively. That means of all the people who died from cancer that year, 83% of them were men. And, in total, 21% of all these deaths were attributed to smoking.
Breaking it down further, the researchers found that nearly 800,000 cancer deaths occurred in industrialized nations such as Canada and the U.S. They also found that for men in North America and Europe, cancer deaths due to smoking rose to a staggering 40%. Lung cancer is the biggest contributor to these deaths, followed by tumors in the esophagus, mouth, and pharynx. These are scary statistics for smokers.
These statistics are not surprising when you consider what’s in a cigarette and what goes directly into the lungs and blood stream of a smoker. More than 4,000 chemicals can be created when a cigarette is lit, and 60 of these are known to cause cancer. Keep in mind that the government approves many of these chemicals. A decade ago, the big tobacco companies submitted a list to the U.S. government of ingredients they may legally use. From the list, 600 were approved, including the following:
–Acetone (paint thinner) –Ammonia –Arsenic (rat poison) –Cadmium (used in batteries) –Cyanide (poison used in gas chambers) –Formaldehyde (preserves dead bodies) –Lead –Methanol (rocket fuel) –Tar — Toluene (industrial solvent)
The next time you reach for a cigarette, you might want to keep this short list in mind. Also, remember that quitting is the best way to prevent diseases caused by smoking. You can consult with your doctor to find out about the best methods for dropping this deadly habit.