Study Shows Scope ofSmoking-Linked DiseaseBy HENRY L. DAVIS
News Medical ReporterThe Buffalo News (NY, USA)
At least 8.6 million Americans suffer from chronic bronchitis and other smoking-related illnesses, according to the first national estimates of serious diseases caused by tobacco use.
The analysis - published last week by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - attempts to paint a fuller picture of the health risks related to cigarette smoking.
"If we think we have tobacco beaten, these numbers show we have a long way to go," said Andrew Hyland, a Roswell Park researcher and lead author of the report.
The truth about the burden of smoking is that there are a lot of smokers, current and former, with lingering diseases," he said.
Tobacco researchers previously have focused on smoking-related deaths. But 20 times more people in the United States suffer from smoking-related illnesses than die from cigarette use.An estimated 440,000 Americans die annually from cigarette smoking, according to the CDC. The new data for 2000 shows 8.6 million Americans with bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, cancers and strokes related to smoking cigarettes.Chronic bronchitis, for instance, accounted for 35 percent of smoking-
attributable diseases in current and former smokers. Emphysema accounted for 24 percent and heart attacks for 19 percent.Broken down by state, 559,400 New Yorkers in 2000 suffered one of the major smoking-related conditions.Bronchitis, an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, leads sufferers to cough up heavy mucus or phlegm. Emphysema, an overinflation of the air sacs in the lungs, leaves patients short of breath.Researchers and others said the data shows more harm caused by cigarettes - in quality of life and lost time at work - than reflected by death estimates."The public and policy-makers have seen the death count. That's impressive but tells only part of the story," said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York in Albany. "Letting people know the extent of the disease burden on the living will help focus even more attention on how devasting tobacco is and its true cost."Hyland said the findings underscore the need to expand studies of the disease burden caused by smoking and to improve the health of the nation by strongly supporting smoking prevention and cessation efforts."The dollars we have invested in proven tobacco-control programs are well invested," he said.Data for the report came from three sources: the National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and the U.S. Census.Researchers cautioned that the information has limitations. The estimates, for instance, are not adjusted to account for other factors, such as diet and exercise, that could influence health.
Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Morbidity -- United States, 2000