Nearly 800,000 deaths prevented due to declines in smoking
Twentieth-century tobacco control programs and policies have prevented nearly 800,000 lung cancer deaths in the US.
Akinso: According to an analysis funded by NIH, tobacco control programs and policies have helped prevent more than 795,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. from 1975 through 2000. Dr. Eric Feuer who is the study author of this analysis, says great strides have been made in tobacco control.
Feuer: 800,000 lung cancer deaths, that's 550,000 men and 250,000 women were prevented due to the decline in smoking rates that occurred since the first Surgeon General's report.
Akinso: The first Surgeon General report on smoking and health was released in 1964.
Feuer: If all cigarette smoking has ceased following the first Surgeon General report, we estimate that we could have prevented 2.5 million lung cancer deaths, 1.6 million men and almost 900,000 women.
Akinso: Researchers, part of the NIH-sponsored Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network, used a comparative modeling approach in which they constructed detailed smoking histories for individuals born from 1890 through 1970. The researchers then related the histories to lung cancer mortality in mathematical models. Dr. Feuer describes the results these models provided.
Feuer: The models we used provide a quantitative description of the chance of the development, diagnosis, and death from lung cancer for never smokers, continuing smokers, and former smokers. And that's giving a detailed smoking history. And because there are different approaches to this type of modeling, instead of just using one model we used six different models. And the different approaches actually yielded quite similar answers, which gives the results of our study more credibility.
Akinso: In the study, researchers created three smoking data scenarios.
Feuer: Using our modeling we can reconstruct the world on different scenarios. One scenario in which smoking remains at levels prior to the first Surgeon General's report went over 50 percent of adult men and over 30 percent of adult women smoked and we called this scenario the no tobacco control scenario. A second scenario was one in which everyone quit just after the first Surgeon General's report we called that complete tobacco control. And the third and final scenario was one which represented the observed smoking rate and we called that actual tobacco control.
Akinso: Dr. Feuer explains that the researchers compared the different scenarios.
Feuer: By comparing the number of lung cancer death between these scenarios we found while that 800,000 lung cancer deaths were averted, this represents about one third of the total lung cancer deaths that could have been prevented if tobacco control had been immediate and perfect.
Akinso: Dr. Feuer says that an overwhelming majority of lung cancer deaths can be prevented by eliminating cigarette smoking.
Feuer: The study findings show that we've really come a long way since the first Surgeon General's report. And have done a good job at reducing tobacco use and prevented many, many lung cancer death. But they also show that we have a long way yet to go and can't relax our efforts.
Akinso: Dr. Feuer adds that the findings indicate that, continued and enhanced tobacco control efforts have the potential to avert even more deaths. For more information on this study, visit www.cancer.gov. For NIH Radio, this is Wally Akinso— NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Eric Feuer
Topic: Smoking, cancer, lung, deaths, 800,000, cigarettes, cigarette
Additional Info: Nearly 800,000 deaths prevented due to declines in smoking