Stopping Smoking/Cancer Risk

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

A new study confirms that cigarette smokers of any age reduce their risk of developing lung cancer when they stop smoking. It says those who stop before the age of thirty-five reduce their chance of lung cancer by more than ninety percent. Those who stop smoking by age fifty cut their risk of lung cancer by fifty percent. Experts say the study gives the best evidence yet that it is never too late to stop smoking.

The study also estimates the number of deaths linked to tobacco if people continue to smoke at the current rate. It says one-thousand-million people will die in the next one-hundred years of diseases linked to smoking tobacco. That is ten times more than died of such diseases in the past one-hundred years.

Scientists at Oxford University in England did the study. The British Medical Journal published the results.

Lung cancer is a leading killer of people who smoke. Tobacco also has been linked to more than twenty other diseases, including heart disease, and throat and bladder cancer.

The study shows that some lung damage from smoking cannot be repaired even if a person stops smoking early. But it found that the earlier a person stops smoking the greater the reduction in the risk of developing lung cancer. The British study found that only two percent of those who stopped by the age of thirty developed lung cancer by the age of seventy-five. It found that ten percent of those who stopped at age sixty would die of lung cancer. The study also showed that people who continue to smoke into old age have about a sixteen percent risk of dying from the disease.

The British researchers examined findings from two earlier studies of lung cancer and smoking. One was done in the Nineteen-Forties, the other about Nineteen-Ninety. The earlier study was one of the first to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Many people in Britain stopped smoking after the first report, greatly reducing lung cancer in the country. In Nineteen-Forty-Eight, eighty-one per cent of British men over the age of sixty smoked. In Nineteen-Eighty-Eight, twenty-one percent did.

Yet, deaths linked to tobacco are increasing because people in other countries started smoking more recently. Researchers hope the new findings will influence more smokers to stop.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.

Voice of America Special English