Wednesday, 10 October 2007

more smoking myths debunked

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

During the time period from October 1959 through February 1960, the American Cancer Society enrolled men in a smoker survey, described in the Report as the "Men in 25 States" study. Female volunteers were each asked to pick ten families among their acquaintances, each with at least one person over the age of 45, and study them to find out whether they would die during the survey period and, specifically, whether they would die from lung cancer.

There were 448,000 useable replies, representing 448,000 men between the ages of 35 and 89. We don't know how many replies were rejected as unusable because each volunteer was free to use her own criteria. We also don't know how many smokers were studied as opposed to non-smokers because the results, published in the 1964 Surgeon General's Report, don't furnish that information. We do know that during the approximately 22 months that the survey lasted, there were 11,612 deaths. As the Surgeon General acknowledged, this translates to a death rate for both smokers and non-smokers, considerably below the overall death rate for white males, meaning that the participants in the survey were considerably healthier than the average person. At least, that's what the Surgeon General thought that it meant. I have other ideas.

The observed mortality ratios for different types of smokers, as opposed to non-smokers, were as follows:

Cigarettes only 1.83 Cigarettes and other 1.54 Cigars only 0.97 Pipes only 0.86

Thus, once again, as with Doll's study, it appears that cigar and pipe smokers actually lived longer than non-smokers - something that modern anti smokers would vigorously dispute.

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