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People aren’t kidding around when they call cigarettes “cancer sticks.”

According to a research letter published in Monday’s issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, almost half of the 346,000 deaths from 12 different cancers in adults in 2011 were directly attributed to cigarettes. That means the habit can be blamed for the deaths of 167,805 people. In one year. In one country.

Shockingly, 80 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in the U.S. were attributed to smoking, which means lung cancer is almost exclusively caused by cigarettes. The largest proportions of other cancer deaths linked to smoking came from cancers of the bronchus, trachea and the larynx.

But that’s not all.

About half of the deaths from cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus and urinary bladder were also attributed to smoking. Cancers of the colon, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach and cervix were also linked to the habit, albeit to a lesser extent. That means you’d actually be safer living in a cave filled with black widow spiders or swimming in an ocean filled with sharks than buying a pack of smokes.

The researchers hope that this information will serve as a wakeup call to remind people that smoking can trigger the onset of many cancers, not just in the lungs. That said, butting out isn’t easy (of course), as demonstrated by the 167,805 individuals who died because of the habit in 2011. Health Canada reports that there were 4.6 million smokers in Canada in 2012, representing about 16 per cent of the population.

If you’re a smoker, and this is all starting to feel defeating, don’t worry! The damage can be undone. Consider this information, taken from Ontario’s guide to quitting smoking. If you can stop, within:

  • 20 minutes: your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal
  • 2 days: your sense of smell and taste begin to return
  • 1 year: your risk of smoking-related heart disease or stroke is cut by one half
  • 5 years: your risk of heart disease is the same as someone who never smoked
  • 10 years: your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half

If you’re a smoker and feel ready to quit, you can check out Health Canada’s guide right here. Or if you know a smoker and want to help them kick the habit, there’s also a guide for that.