Saturday, 24 October 2009

Smoking and health

postulate: Smoking is unrelated to lung cancer

Recent studies suggest that lung cancer may be a genetic disease

There are no studies showing that nicotine is a carcinogen.

August 1, 1990 edition of the Wall Street Journal
. A Study was conducted by researchers at Louisiana State University Medical Centre (New Orleans): Albert Einstein College (NY). The researchers studied 300 families in Southern Louisiana, who had a history of lung cancer, and compared them with 300 controls. The researchers concluded lung cancer is an inherited disease. Based upon retrospective studies 35 the researchers concluded that if a person had two copies of the lung cancer gene, his chances of getting lung cancer by the age of 50 would be 14% if he did not smoke, increasing to 27% if he were a heavy smoker. In the more likely case of an individual having only one copy of the gene, the researchers concluded that a non-smoker would have practically no risk of getting lung cancer by age 50, but for a heavy smoker the risk increased to 5% by age 50, 16% by age 60, and 25% by age 75.These figures remain highly contentious. There is an interesting quote from Neil E. Caporaso, a researcher at the US government-owned National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. one out of eight smokers will be stricken with lung cancer (which is another way of saying that seven out of eight will not). Considering the fact that one out of every five Americans dies from some form of cancer, and that lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in persons between the ages of 45 and 74, and the second commonest form in persons over that age, Mr. Caporaso's estimate of the risk seems very modest and wholly at variance with the position taken by most government scientists, who shriek hysterically that smoking "causes" lung cancer.

a very interesting study was recently reported, which confirms that if there is a risk involved in smoking, it has been grossly exaggerated . On May 23, 1995, the Associated Press(US) reported on a study made by Dr. Gary Strauss. Strauss analysed 685 lung cancer patients seen at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston(Mass) between 1988 and 1994. He found that 59% of the patients were non-smokers at the time their cancers were diagnosed. Of these, 8% of the entire sample had never smoked; 51% had smoked at one time but had given it up. Of the 51% who had quit, nearly one fourth had been off cigarettes for more than 20 years. On average, the former smokers had been off cigarettes for six years. Lung cancer is not always diagnosed in non-smokers, because doctors aren't necessarily looking for it. Currently, according to the CDC, 25% of the (US)population are smokers. In the study years (1988-1994), the percentage was as high as 30%. Thus, purely on the basis of demography, we would expect between 25 and 30% of the sufferers from lung cancer, or for that matter, hangnails or acne, to be current smokers. 41% of the cases studied by Strauss were current smokers. Given the role of detection bias (doctors more likely to diagnose lung cancer in smokers than non-smokers), the 41% figure suggests that the lung cancer risk for current smokers may be little or no greater than for non-smokers. In the article, Dr. David Burns of the University of California, seems to support the view that giving up smoking is not the "cure" for lung cancer. He is quoted as saying, "These folks have done what we told them to do, yet they are still at substantially increased risk. What can we do for them? We owe these people an answer." Burns suggested that it may be possible to device a genetic test to spot lung cancer. I would go further and suggest a genetic test to spot the likelihood that somebody will get lung cancer. Whether, in such an individual, giving up smoking would do any good, I don't know, but such individuals probably would choose not to smoke, just as I choose not to eat starches and sugars. The same article also reports that deaths from lung cancer have increased by 51% between 1980 and 1994, despite a drop in the percentage of adults who smoke from 42% in 1965, to 25% in 1993. Isn't it about time to stop blindly adhering to the notion that lung cancer will disappear if people simply give up smoking?

Actually, Dr. Burns is not the only medical doctor who has begun to question that simplistic notion. Julian Whitaker, MD( October 1995) "Since 1950, the incidence of all cancers in people between the ages of 50 and 60 years has increased by 44%, with even higher increases in some of the more deadly forms of cancer. Breast and colon cancer went up 60%, prostate up 100% and testicular cancer for men between the ages of 28 and 35 went up 300%. Lung cancer has gone up 262%, an increase that is obviously not related to cigarette smoking, because over the same period the number of people smoking cigarettes dropped from 50% to 25%..." Doctor Whitaker expresses no opinion as to the reasons for the startling increases in cancer in recent years.