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Study Finds New Smoking-Death Connections

PHOTO: A new study finds deaths from kidney failure, breast and prostate cancer may be connected to smoking. Photo courtesy of CDC.
PHOTO: A new study finds deaths from kidney failure, breast and prostate cancer may be connected to smoking. Photo courtesy of CDC.
February 19, 2015

WASHINGTON – While many of the dangers of smoking have been well known for some time, new research shows the consequences may be larger and deadlier than previously thought.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there are 21 different causes of death attributed to smoking, with some 480,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Now, a study co-authored by epidemiologist Brian Carter with the American Cancer Society makes more death connections.

"And we identified at least six new causes of death that we think are probably associated with smoking,” he points out. “And if you look at these as an aggregate, that would add about 60,000 deaths per year to that 480,000 number."

Those new causes of death that may be connected to smoking include kidney failure, hypertensive heart disease, infections and various respiratory diseases.

The study looked at data covering about 1 million people from 2000 to 2011, and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The analysis also found an association between smoking and increased mortality rates for breast and prostate cancer.

Carter says the links to these deaths and the others identified should spur more scrutiny.

"I think researchers really need to look at them in a much more focused manner to see exactly how smoking might cause these diseases,” he states. “And if they're replicated in other more focused studies, I think they need to be incorporated into annual estimates of the number of deaths caused by smoking."

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD