Old numbers used to show that each year, approximately 480,000 Americans die caused by the unhealthy habit of smoking. A fresh analysis provided new numbers, however, and they show that smoking might be responsible for 575,000 deaths.
Until today, there were 21 official causes of death blamed on smoking, but the new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that those causes cover only 83 percent of the actual deaths among smokers.
Beyond the usual smoking-related diseases, links could be found to other several fatal conditions, such as prostate or breast cancer, renal failure, and hypertensive heart disease – adding to the already staggering number of 480,000 deaths. It was also observed that accidents and suicides, even though in a small number of cases, were also linked to smoking.
Teams of researchers form the National Cancer Institute and from the American Cancer Society have combined quite a large number of data from five ongoing health studies: the Cancer Prevention Study II, the AARP Diet and Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study I, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and the Women’s Health Initiative. The study interviewed almost 1 million men and women about their smoking habits, tracking them since January 1, 2000.
The study observed its volunteers between 2000 and 2011. In this timeframe, 19 percent of smokers died, also 23 percent of former smokers and 14 percent of people who said they never smoked.
The researchers found that smokers were more prone to die from one of the smoking-related health conditions, which is not surprising. Among these diseases we count heart diseases, pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, arterial diseases, leukemia, diabetes, and many forms of cancer: of the lung, kidney, pancreas, colon, bladder, liver, oral cavity, and stomach. An overwhelming majority of men and women who died after sustaining a habit of smoking until the end of their lives, were suffering from at least one of these diseases, and one of them caused death.
Even though we are talking about a majority here, there were another 17 percent of deaths among women who smoked and 15 percent of deaths among male smokers which were caused by different causes. In almost every case, the study discovered that the health conditions in this second group are more likely to kill smokers than nonsmokers. Male smokers have 60 percent more chances to develop a form of rare cancer. Risk of death by infection doubled among smokers, as opposed to nonsmokers. The same goes for digestive diseases and hypertension as causes for death.
The researchers concluded that the number of people dying in the United States as a result to sustaining a smoking habit is greater than currently assessed.
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