Half of U.S. cancer deaths can be linked to smoking

Smoking is a large contributor to cancer deaths in the United States.
Smoking is a large contributor to cancer deaths in the United States.

(HealthDay News) -- About half of U.S. deaths caused by certain cancers -- including lung, colorectum, and pancreatic tumors -- can be attributed to smoking, a new American Cancer Society study estimates. The report was published online June 15 as a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers looked at 12 cancers known to be caused by smoking. In 2011, they found that 345,962 people died from these types of cancer. The researchers also had data on current and former smoking, and found that 167,805 of these deaths were due to tobacco.

For some cancers, the researchers said smoking was responsible for more than half of the deaths. Almost 126,000 of the deaths attributed to smoking were from cancers of the lungs, bronchus, and trachea. That is 80.2 percent of deaths from those cancers linked to smoking, according to the study. Just under 3,000 deaths from cancer of the larynx were tied to smoking, which is 76.6 percent of the deaths that occurred in 2012 from that type of cancer, the researchers said. In addition, approximately half of the deaths from cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, and urinary bladder were due to tobacco use. Smoking was also cited as the cause of many deaths from cancer of the colorectum, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, and from myeloid leukemia.

"Despite large declines in smoking in the United States over the last 50 years, smoking still accounts for the majority of lung cancer deaths," study coauthor Rebecca Siegel, M.P.H., the American Cancer Society's director of surveillance information, told HealthDay. "While we have made a lot of progress in tobacco control, there is still a lot to do," she said.

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