By age 45, smokers already at significantly higher risk of cancer death

by Erin White

(Medical Xpress)—A new Northwestern Medicine study shows that smoking during your middle-aged years dramatically increases your lifetime risk of not just getting cancer, but dying from it.

Researchers found that have a greater risk of dying from cancer than female smokers, but smokers of both sexes are much more likely than non-smokers to die from the disease. Here are some of the results:

  • Male smokers, aged 45, have a 75 percent increase in risk of dying from cancer in their lifetime than non-smokers of the same age and gender.
  • , aged 45, have a 64 percent increase in risk of dying from cancer in their lifetime than non-smokers of the same age and gender.
"Age, gender and smoking status play a huge role in people's health," said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D. the senior author of the study. "This study should be another wake-up call for middle-aged smokers, most of whom have already been smoking for decades. They are at a much greater risk of dying from cancer than non-smokers their age." 

Lloyd-Jones is the chair of at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

The study was published online in the journal Cancer Causes and Control. This is the first study to use data pooled from 10 well-known epidemiologic cohorts in the United States that included men and women, middle aged and older, to estimate the risk smokers have of dying from cancer in their lifetime versus nonsmokers. The study took into account and adjusted for other non-cancer, smokers and non-smokers face, such as cardiovascular disease. 

"It may surprise some to know that was not the only cancer that killed these smokers," said Andrew Gawron, M.D., a fellow in the department of medicine at Feinberg and first author of the study. "We found that those who smoked at age 45 greatly increased their risk of dying from a wide variety of cancers later on and often die from cancer at younger ages than non-smokers."

Researchers calculated smoker's and non-smoker's of dying from cancer not only at age 45, but ages 55, 65 and 75, too. As smokers aged, they were more likely to die from competing risks, such as , rather than cancer, according to the study. However, the fact that non-smokers have a decreased risk of dying from cancer across all ages implies that any decrease in tobacco exposure could lead to decreases in cancer deaths and improved longevity, Gawron said. 

"These are alarming numbers that doctors can provide to middle-aged smokers during clinical visits," Gawron said. "Hopefully it will encourage smoking cessation and help patients adopt a healthier lifestyle."

Related Stories

Teen smokers have attention deficit

date Mar 23, 2007

A U.S. study finds that teen smokers have difficulty paying attention, with those whose mothers smoked while pregnant having the hardest time.

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 12 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 12 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 13 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 16 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.