A study entitled “Smoking and Mortality – Beyond Established Causes” appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine last week. The study followed almost a million people over the course of ten years. Researchers found that compared with people who had never smoked:
Approximately 17% of the excess mortality among current smokers was due to associations with causes that are not currently established as attributable to smoking.
- Smokers were about twice as likely to die from infections, kidney disease, respiratory ailments not previously linked to tobacco, and hypertensive heart disease, in which high blood pressure leads to heart failure.
- Smokers were also six times more likely to die from a rare illness caused by insufficient blood flow to the intestines.
The study also found small increases in the risks of breast and prostate cancer among smokers. Dr. Brian Carter, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society, notes that those findings were not as strong as the others, adding that additional research could help determine whether there were biological mechanisms that would support a connection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 42 million Americans smoke — 15 percent of women and 21 percent of men.