Smoking and Cancer

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The number of people who smoke has dropped dramatically in the last 50 years – at least in North America – but cigarettes still cause about one-third of cancer deaths in the United States, according to a study in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society analyzed 2010 national data to get the latest numbers, and their estimates  don’t include deaths from secondhand smoke or from other types of tobacco use such as cigars, pipes, or smokeless tobacco.

More than 30 years ago, a groundbreaking study concluded that 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States were caused by smoking. The researchers said the rate of smoking-related cancer deaths in 2010 is higher than the rate three decades ago. But they said that doesn’t mean falling smoking rates have not helped reduce cancer deaths.

Rather, other factors contributed to the higher rate in 2010. Those factors include an increasing number of cancers known to be caused by smoking, rising lung cancer death rates among women smokers, and progress in reducing deaths from cancers caused by factors other than smoking. The situation is likely similar here in canada. About 17% of the population are smokers in  both countries, down from over 40% in the mid-60’s.


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