A new study adds at least five diseases to the number of diseases linked to tobacco. It also adds 60,000 more deaths each year related to tobacco. Smoking was already blamed for nearly half a million deaths a year. The deaths result from 21 diseases, including 12 types of cancer.
Researchers found that smokers were about twice as likely to die from infections, kidney disease, and respiratory ailments not previously linked to tobacco. Other diseases and ailments previously not traced to tobacco include intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, heart and lung ailments, and hypertensive heart disease (high blood pressure) leading to heart failure.
Experts say smoking is still an epidemic.
The people hurt the most by smoking are lower-income people with less education. They are also more likely to be on Medicaid and may get less medical care.
The more heavily a person smoked, the greater the added risks. Among former smokers, the risks go down over time.
Researchers suspect that smoking increases the risk of breast and prostate cancer. More research is needed.
About 42 million Americans smoke — 15 percent of women and 21 percent of men. Their death rates from tobacco-related diseases are two to three times higher than the rates of people who have never smoked. They die more than a decade before nonsmokers.
Efforts to inform people about the dangers of smoking continue. Still, younger people and poorer people continue to be those most likely to smoke.
Source: The New York Times February 12, 2015
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