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Surgeon General Adds to List of Smoking’s Harms

Report finds cigarette smoking linked to diabetes and colorectal cancer (January 17)

Approximately 5.6 million American children alive today — or one out of every 13 children under age 18 — will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop, according to a new Surgeon General’s report.

The report concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related conditions. It puts the price tag of smoking in this country at more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs.

Since the 1960s, smoking has been identified as a cause of serious diseases of nearly all of the body’s organs. Today, scientists add diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, and other conditions to the list of diseases that cigarette smoking causes. In addition, the report concludes that exposure to secondhand smoke is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers.

“Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General’s report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes,” said Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH. “How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks. Of all forms of tobacco, cigarettes are the most deadly — and cause medical and financial burdens for millions of Americans.”

Source: CDC; January 17, 2014.

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