A new research finds that smoking may be linked to 60,000 to 120,000 more deaths in the U.S. each year than previously estimated. The findings for this study were analyzed from health data of a million people over a ten year period. The examination of 181,377 revealed that many of the excess deaths among smokers were due to causes not previously attributed to smoking, such as infections, kidney failure, heart issues and lung issues.
The study found that people who smoked were twice more likely than non-smokers to die due to kidney disease, respiratory issues and infection. Breast cancer and prostate cancer death rates were 30% and 40% higher among the smokers, respectively. This might be because smoking lowers the immune system and blood flow in certain parts of the body, making it challenging for the body to heal itself when something goes wrong.
Eric Jacobs, director of pharmaco-epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, told Reuters Health that the study was aimed at researching whether smoking causes more than common diseases that are associated with cigarette smoking. In fact, 17% of the extra deaths among smokers were attributable to causes that were not on the Surgeon General’s list.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that about 42 million Americans smoke, representing 21% of men and 15% of women among the total population. About 480,000 annual deaths in the U.S. were believed to be attributable to smoking.
If the findings of this study are applied nationwide, the number of previously-unrecognized smoking related deaths could be more than the total number of Americans who die every year of liver disease or influenza.
Jacobs said that it is not surprising that smoking kills, but it is important to realize the full impact of smoking attributable deaths, which makes smoking elimination a national priority.