Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Smoking cessation can damage your health

A study reported in 2007 that found that abrupt smoking cessation can kill is worth repeating here in the interests of balance. Usually the message about quitting is that you can't lose, but nothing is ever simple.

Dominic Lawson's story in the previous post of a middle-aged man suffering a fatal stroke during his time in hospital after being forced to leave all his tobacco at the door provides a case in point. On one hand he is a 'typical' case of a smoker who dies prematurely following a stroke. On the other he is a heavy smoker who is going through the trauma of a small operation, who has been suddenly and unwillingly deprived of tobacco. Presenting smokers with the trauma of forced withdrawal when they are already facing hospitalisation and possible surgery is barbarism in my book, even without the clear possibility of an adverse health outcome or death.

So far I haven't found many further references to this, but here is one.

H/tip Kin_Free.


Rollo Tommasi said...

Oh dear. Are you suggesting this report is proper science?

"This is not a scientific study but is an observation from a group of clinicians in India.

To be considered seriously the topic would have to be looked at in a careful study and published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I think the observation is flawed as they are only looking at people that have cancer. What you need to do is follow a large group of quitters and see if they get cancer more or less often than smokers that keep smoking. Many smokers may decide to quit when they start feeling some pain or early signs of cancer. Many cancer patients will have recently quit by chance.

Here is a large study of quitters in Japan that clearly showed a lower cancer risk in the quitters:

Cancer Sci. 2007 Apr;98(4):584-9. Decrease in risk of lung cancer death in Japanese men after smoking cessation by age at quitting: pooled analysis of three large-scale cohort studies.
Wakai K [et al]"

Seems proper scientific evidence shows that Belinda and Kin Free are wrong - quitting lowers your lung cancer risk.

Belinda said...

Evening Rollo

I only described the report as a study. I haven't read the study so I wouldn't know if it is proper science or not. But it is a claim, and if someone finds that over half of the lung cancer patients treated by three doctors over four years recently stopped smoking, I don't care if it is analysed by real science or not. It is a fact, and if I am going to give up smoking I want to know about it. Is that all right with you or do you think the information should be hidden from me for my own safety?

Belinda said...

Besides the stock '90 per cent of lung cancer patients are smokers' (besides being of doubtful accuracy) does just that - starts with the sick people (and probably accounts for why medics are so much in favour of smoking restrictions). According to my figures, to take it the other way around, about 5.5 per cent total population died from lung cancer. And I've also read of diagnoses of lung cancer getting disastrously missed in non-smokers simply because it never occurred to the doctor that it could happen to non-smokers.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Good evening to you too, Belinda. I trust you are not upset by my previous post, which strives to add balance by critiqing the value of your study. If you are going to give up smoking, you'll want to know about this too, right?

The medical profession's knowledge about the dangers of cigarette smoking is based on many often lengthy and substantial studies (such as Doll's 50 year cohort study of doctors - which most definitely did NOT start off with sick people). The "90 per cent" figure is simply a helpful way of showing the close association between smoking and lung cancer. And it is based on far more thorough and broad-based evidence than the study you cited.

I can't say if your 5.5% figure is right or not, but it may well be in the right ball park. Of course, to lung cancer, you have to take account the increased risk which smoking creates for other diseases, such as some other types of cancer, heart disease and certain respiratory diseases. All of which adds up to an overarching message that around half of all regular smokers will die prematurely as a result of their habit or addiction.

Belinda said...

Lol, when I decide to give up my six a month habit you will be the first to know Rollo.

jredheadgirl said...

A former smoker has a RR 3.5 (2.8-4.4) for developing lung cancer.

A CURRENT smoker of 1-9 cigarettes a day has a RR 4.1 (2.9-5.8) for developing lung cancer.

A current smoker of 40-80 cpd has a RR 18.7 ((14.5-24.0) for developing lung cancer.

...and when it comes to heart disease...

The RR for a former smoker is 1.2 (1.1-1.3).

The RR for a current smoker of 1-9 cpd is 1.2 (1.1-1.3)!!!!!

The RR for a current smoker of 40+ cpd is 1.9 ((1.7-2.1).

...Just to put things into perspective a bit. A former smoker has roughly the same RR for both lung cancer and heart disease as that of a current smoker of 1-9 cpd.

Source-Hyping Health Risks-Geoffrey Kabat

...Think I'll continue on having my 5-6 smokes a day, thank you very much.