Tobacco and Cancer
In 1982, the United States Surgeon General’s report stated that smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Decades later, this statement is as true today as it ever was. Tobacco use is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the US. Since smoking is an acquired behavior, it is also the most preventable cause of death in our society.
Cigarette smoking is linked with an increased risk of the following cancers:
- Larynx (voice box)
- Oral Cavity (mouth, tongue, and lips)
- Pharynx (throat)
- Acute myeloid leukemia
What Is In Tobacco?
Cigarettes, cigars, spit and pipe tobaccos are made from dried tobacco leaves. Other ingredients are then added to enhance the flavor. More than 4,000 chemicals have been found in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Among the 4,000, 60 of those chemicals are known causes of cancer.
Nicotine is one of the chemicals in tobacco, and it has been determined by the Surgeon General to be the addicting factor in this drug. The reason it is so hard for people to stop smoking is mainly due to their addiction to nicotine. Many people who try to quit have a difficult time but the struggle is well worth the effort.
When people quit smoking the gain heavily outweighs the loss. Immediate health benefits are noticeable in those that have smoking-related disease as well as in those that don’t. Also former smokers live much longer than those who continue to smoke. One that quits lowers their risk of cancers, heart attacks, stroke and chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Consequently, a tobacco habit can be very expensive. Costs of smoking cigarettes can add up to more than $1,500 a year. If money is not a factor for a smoker, surely social acceptance is. Smoking causes bad breath, yellow teeth and unsightly wrinkles.
Mesothelioma and Smoking
Known as the magic mineral thanks to its fire and heat resistance, it was almost logical that the tobacco industry make use of the known carcinogen asbestos. Once mixed with tobacco to make rolling papers for smokes, the asbestos-tobacco combination was lauded by smokers for offering a smooth, slow-burning experience. Additionally, consumers raved about the fact that it left the pipe clean and dry without dirty moisture residue on the stem. No longer used in cigarettes, the combination of asbestos and smoking is still as deadly as it was decades ago.
Although smoking does not seem to increase the risk of getting mesothelioma, the symbiotic effects of smoking and asbestos exposure dramatically increases one’s risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung. Smoking and asbestos exposure are a dangerous combination and after a mesothelioma diagnosis, a patient should immediately quit smoking.