Smoking More Deadly Than First Thought, Scientists Say
Smoking related deaths could have been underestimated by hundreds of thousands, scientists say following new research that has identified a selection of illnesses they say are caused by the habit that were not previously linked – British newspaper the Daily Mail reported.
It was previously estimated that smoking killed six million people every year globally – but new research suggests that the figure could be at least 780,000 more, following the discovery of links between smoking and several previously unassociated diseases.
The increase could have serious implications for the Middle East where smoking has reached endemic proportions in some countries.
It is well documented that there is a link between lung disease, some cancers, artery disease, heart attacks and strokes and smoking.
But a 10-year study by scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine has revealed links to significantly increased risks of infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by poor blood flow – as well as heart and lung illnesses not previously associated with cigarettes, the report added.
Dr Eric Jacobs, co-author of the study told the newspaper: “The number of additional deaths potentially linked to cigarette smoking is substantial.
“In our study, many excess deaths among smokers were from disease categories that are not currently established as caused by smoking, and we believe there is strong evidence that many of these deaths may have been caused by smoking.
“If the same is true nationwide, then cigarette smoking may be killing about 60,000 more Americans each year than previously estimated, a number greater than the total number who die each year of influenza or liver disease.”
The research reaffirmed an increased rate in death of nearly three times in smokers, and the link between smoking and well documented diseases, including 12 types of cancer.
But the real surprise was that 17 percent of excess deaths in smokers were due to diseases that have not yet officially been linked to smoking by the U.S. surgeon general.
The research found cigarettes at least doubled a person’s risk of death from a number of ailments including renal failure, intestinal ischemia, hypertensive heart disease, infections and various respiratory diseases the report added.
Smokers were also six times more likely to die from an illness caused by inadequate blood flow to the intestines.
The scientists found that the risk declined among those who kicked the habit.
According to an article in the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in 2009 there was a particular concern over tobacco use in the Middle East.
Specifically Jordan caused particular alarm with more than half of all men smoking on average 23 cigarettes a day.
The research also found that about 20 percent of Jordanian school children between 13 and 15 also smoked.
The problem spreads further to Egypt where 43.6 percent of adult men and 4.8 percent of women were smokers, with people starting the habit from as young as 15
Meanwhile 52.6 percent of the adult Lebanese population smokes; while in Morocco, 30 percent of men and 10 percent of women smoke. Elsewhere in Iran, 24.8 percent of men and 4.7 percent of women smoked.
At the time that this article was written, scientists were warning of a significant increase in the rate of smoking related diseases.
This article was originally published in Al Arabiya and can be read here.