Smoking Linked to More Diseases

lips smoking

On the fiftieth anniversary of the first US Surgeon General’s report on smoking, researchers continue to link the practice to new diseases, and public health officials urge even more forceful efforts to bring America to the smoking “end game.”

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “We’ve made a lot of progress since the first Surgeon General’s report, but we’re still a country addicted to tobacco.”

The 980-page report is divided into 3 sections, starting with a historical perspective with overview and conclusions, followed by a compilation of available public and privately funded research about the health consequences of active and passive smoking and a section entitled “Tracking and Ending the Epidemic,” which provides data about smoking, along with recommendations for bringing the smoking “epidemic” to an end.

The research section is the largest, reflecting a huge accumulation of knowledge since the first Surgeon General’s report linking smoking with lung cancer. “Amazingly, 50 years in, we’re still finding out new ways that tobacco maims and kills people,” noted Thomas R. Frieden, MD, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also speaking at the briefing.

Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, immune dysfunction, tuberculosis, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and erectile dysfunction are among the diseases that can now be added to the ever-growing list for which evidence strongly supports a causal association with smoking. Also new on the list are orofacial clefts in the infants of women who smoke during pregnancy, as well as stroke resulting from secondhand smoke.

“Physicians may find surprising that we continue to causally link additional diseases to smoking. The list just keeps getting longer,” the report’s editor, Jonathan M. Samet, MD, told Medscape Medical News. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

Reference: Surgeon General’s Report Links More Diseases to Smoking; Medscape.com: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819438

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