Lung Cancer Now Leading Killer Of Cigarette Smokers, Study Says
Aug. 21, 1991
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Cigarette smoking will cause more than 157,000 cancer deaths this year, the National Cancer Institute estimated Wednesday, adding that lung cancer now kills more smokers than heart disease.
Based on a new study, institute researchers said smoking also plays a major role in cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pancreas, larynx, bladder and kidney.
The study said that smoking was the major risk in 91.5 percent of oral cancers among men and 86.7 percent of larynx cancers among women.
''Smoking directly increases the mortality risks for at least eight major cancer sites, including a number of sites for which trends in 5-year survival are extremely poor,'' said the study, reported in the current edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
As an example, the study said that only about 12 percent of lung cancer patients survived for more than five years in the period 1981 to 1986.
The study estimated the total number of deaths due to cigarette smoking at 157,226 in 1991.
Of that, 123,111 deaths were attributed to lung cancer - 83,076 among men and 40,035 among women.
The study said the statistical risk of dying from lung cancer has doubled in the last three decades for male cigarette smokers and increased four times for female cigarette smokers.
The report was written by Donald R. Shopland and Terry F. Pechacek of the National Cancer Institute and by Harmon J. Eyre of the American Cancer Society.
For the years 1987 through 1989, the study said, the number of smoking- attributed lung cancer deaths exceeded smoking-related heart disease deaths for the first time.
Lung cancer deaths among smokers in 1989 was said to total 117,032, while heart disease deaths among smokers were said to be 107,038.
''It is now clear ... that lung cancer deaths due to cigarette smoking are accounting for an increasingly greater proportion of both total smoking- related deaths and total cancer deaths,'' the study said. ''It would appear that lung cancer has displaced CHD (cardiovascular disease) as the single most important cause of excess mortality among smokers in the U.S. population.''
Cigarette smoking was blamed for 86.1 percent of all the lung cancer deaths and 21.5 percent of the heart disease deaths.
If smoking-related deaths were omitted, the rate of cancer deaths among Americans would actually be declining, the study said.
Asked to comment on the study, Tobacco Institute spokeswoman Brennan Dawson said she had not received a copy of the report and could not comment on specific findings.
However, she noted, ''the American public is overwhelmingly informed about the health risks associated with smoking. Adult Americans have the information they need to make their decisions (about smoking.)''