The hospitals and healthcare organizationsthat made the first moves to ban smokers are looking smarter and smarter.
It’s common knowledge the smoking is terrible for your health, causing things like lung cancer, artery disease, heart attacks, chronic lung disease and stroke, just to name a few. But a new study shows that it can be attributed to at least five more diseases and adds 60,000 more deaths a year to the previous half a million statistic.
Researchers found that smoking was linked to kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, increased risk of infection and heart and lung ailments not previously linked to tobacco.
Now, adding on these additional ailments might not make a difference for some smokers to quit, considering they already have a laundry list of potential health risks to be concerned about. But researchers believe it’s still very important to inform the public.
“The smoking epidemic is still ongoing, and there is a need to evaluate how smoking is hurting us as a society, to support clinicians and policy making in public health,” said Brian D. Carter, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, told The New York Times. He is the first author of an article about the study, which appears in The New England Journal of Medicine. “It’s not a done story.”
Carter decided to look further into what was killing smokers after looking at data from five large health surveys with 421,378 male participants and 532,651 women 55 and older, including nearly 89,000 current smokers.
Not surprisingly, the death rates were higher with smokers, but the diseases known to be caused from smoking only made up for 83 percent of those deaths.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really low,’ ” Carter said. “We have this huge cohort. Let’s get into the weeds, cast a wide net and see what is killing smokers that we don’t already know.”
Carter collaborated with scientists from the National Cancer Institute and four different universities for the research that was paid for by the American Cancer Society.
The Times explained Carter’s findings:
Analyzing deaths among the participants from 2000 to 2011, the researchers found that, compared with people who had never smoked, 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.
In an editorial accompanying the article, Dr. Graham A. Colditz, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said these findings demonstrate the fact that the U.S. has underestimated how significant the health risks are for smokers. He also said that smokers aren’t receiving enough help to quit, especially those who depend on Medicaid.