Taking action on smoking and health
There is clear evidence to link tobacco to lung cancer but there is also evidence of an association with cancer of the kidney, cancer of the larynx and head and neck, breast cancer, bladder, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach cancer. There is also some evidence suggesting an increased risk of myeloid leukemia, squamous cell sinonasal cancer, liver cancer, childhood cancers and cancers of the gall bladder, adrenal gland and small intestine. At a recent expert review (to be published as International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph 100E), the list of cancers for which the evidence for tobacco smoking being causative was considered to be ‘sufficient’ was updated to include cancers of the colon and rectum, and mucinous tumours of the ovary.Research published in the British Journal of Cancer on 6th December 2011 (vol.105 supplement 2) estimated that in 2010 in the UK 60,837 cancer cases (19.4% of all new cancer cases) were attributable to tobacco: 36,537 (23.0%) of cancers in men and 24 300 (15.6%) of cancers in women. Tobacco can also be linked to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory ailments, common cold and bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Additionally, tobacco has been linked to an increased risk of reproductive disorders, miscarriage, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), cognitive dysfunction and impotence.
"If tobacco smoking could be eliminated, or at least severely curtailed, and if some of the other known exposure risks of lung cancer are addressed, only then may lung cancer be able to be returned to its designation by Adler at the turn of the twentieth century as 'among the rarest forms of disease." Dela Cruz CS, Tanoue LT, Matthay RA. Lung Cancer: Epidemiology, Etiology, and Prevention, Clinics in Chest Medicine Volume 32, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 605-644
Tobacco smoking is estimated to be responsible for approximately 29% of cancer deaths in the UK. Mortality from smoking in developed countries, 1950 - 2000. Peto, Lopez et al.
The predominant risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the developed world is cigarette smoking. Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years' observations on male British doctors. Doll R, Peto R, Boreham J, Sutherland I. BMJ 2004;328:1519
Passive smoking with a smoke exposure about one-hundredth that of active cigarette smoking is associated with approximately a 30% increase in risk of coronary artery disease, compared with an 80% increase in active smokers. Passive smoking and heart disease: Epidemiology, physiology, and biochemistry. Glantz SA, Parmley WW. Circulation. 1991;83:1-12 Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and ischaemic heart disease: An evaluation of the evidence. Law MR, Morris JK, Wald NJ. BMJ. 1997;315:973-980
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.