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

September 13, 2012 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."

Explore further: Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence, death

Related Stories

Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence, death

June 21, 2011
A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of California, San Francisco, researchers suggests that men with prostate cancer who smoke increase their risk of prostate cancer recurrence and of dying ...

Early morning smokers have increased risk of lung and head and neck cancers

August 8, 2011
Two new studies have found that smokers who tend to take their first cigarette soon after they wake up in the morning may have a higher risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers than smokers who refrain from lighting ...

Recommended for you

One in 4 women and 1 in 6 men aged 65+ will be physically disabled in Europe by 2047

October 23, 2017
By 2047 one in four women and one in six men aged 65 and above is expected to be living with a physical disability that will severely restrict everyday activities, reveals an analysis published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Protein regulates vitamin A metabolic pathways, prevents inflammation

October 23, 2017
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered how uncontrolled vitamin A metabolism in the gut can cause harmful inflammation. The discovery links diet to inflammatory diseases, ...

New insights into controversial diagnosis of adolescent chronic fatigue

October 23, 2017
Crucial new research could provide some clarity around the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents. The research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute published ...

Do boys really have a testosterone spurt at age four?

October 23, 2017
The idea that four-year-old boys have a spurt of testosterone is often used to explain challenging behaviour at this age.

Our laws don't do enough to protect our health data

October 23, 2017
Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior.

New prevention exercise programme to reduce rugby injuries

October 23, 2017
A new dynamic 20-minute exercise programme, performed by rugby players before training and pre-match, could dramatically reduce injuries in the sport according to a benchmark study published today (Sunday 22 October).

0 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.