Increased probability of current smokers dying before age 65
Cigarette smokers aged 35, men or women,
are twice as likely (when compared with non-smokers) to die before they reach the age of
Percentage that die between the ages of
35 and 65 years:
One in four male smokers aged 35 can
expect to die before the age of 65 if they continue to smoke COMPARED to only one in eight
for men who have never smoked.
The likelihood of an ex-smoker aged 35
dying before age 65 years is significantly lower than for those who continue to smoke
(this is especially true for female ex-smokers whose chances of dying before age 65 is
just marginally higher than for those women who have never smoked at all).
(source: HEA - "The UK Smoking
Epidemic: deaths in 1995")
At least 43 elements in tobacco
smoke have been shown to cause cancer
How many times more likely are smokers
(as opposed to non-smokers) to contract cancer?
Lung cancer (Smoking men are 27 times
more likely to get lung cancer than men who dont smoke and smoking women are 14
times more likely to get lung cancer than women who dont smoke). In fact, 89 per
cent of lung cancer deaths in England are caused by smoking.
While lung cancer is relatively rare under
the age of 30, starting young increases your chances of contracting it because the risk of
lung caner is related to the length of time smoking, not just to the total exposure. Those
who start before the age of 20 are at considerably greater risk than those who start
Cancers of the nose (smokers are
twice as likely to get this), tongue, mouth, salivary glands and pharynx (6 times
more likely for smoking women, 27 times more likely for smoking men), throat (12
times more likely), penis (2 to 3 times more likely) and anus (8 to 9 times
(source: "Cigarettes: What the Warning
Label Doesn't Tell You", a compilation of scientific research from the American
Council on Science and Health - 1996; "Smoking and the Young", The Royal College
of Physicians, 1993)
What is oral cancer?
Using the British dental Associations
definition, "oral cancer sites are the lip, tongue, gum, floor of the mouth, other
unspecified parts of the mouth, oropharynx, hypopharynx and other and ill-defined sites
within lip, oral cavity and pharynx"
How common is it?
Is the UK there are currently about 3400
new cases of oral cancer a year and about 1600 deaths (on average 4 people die everyday in
the UK from oral cancer). In the UK there are about 55 new oral cancer cases each year per
million people in the population.
Cancer of the tongue accounts for 1 in 4
new cases of oral cancer in the UK and almost one third of deaths from oral cancer.
The incidence of oral cancer in the UK is
comparable with that of other more publicised cancers. In England and Wales in 1995, there
were 1339 deaths from cervical cancer, 1395 skin melanoma deaths and 130 deaths from oral
Who is at risk?
Oral cancer is not just a disease of the
very old a third of all people who dies from oral cancer are under 65 years old.
That said, the incidence of oral cancer is about twice as high in men as in women and is
most frequent in those over 40 years of age. The highest risk group - smokers who are also
heavy consumers of alcohol. The odds of developing oral cancer increase with the frequency
and duration of use of tobacco and alcohol, and with combined use of the two.
"Tobacco is by far and away the
most important risk factor for oral cancer
There is good evidence that after about
ten years after quitting smoking, the oral cancer risk returns to that of an individual
who has never smoked" British Dental Association (1998)
The average duration of symptoms is usually
around four to five months, ranging from a few weeks up to one year. The majority of
squamous cell carcinomas grow rather slowly. Occasionally however, such cancers behave in
a very aggressive way, doubling in size in just a few days or a week.
In carcinomas of the tongue, pain is often
the first symptom, this may be localised to the tongue or referred (e.g. to the ear)
Reduced mobility of the tongue may be another symptom.
Many smokers die each year from
debilitating lung conditions other than lung cancer. Emphysema, a swelling
and rupturing of the lungs air sacs, reduces the lungs capacity to take in
oxygen (and expel carbon dioxide).
In extreme cases, a tracheotomy
helps patients breathe: an opening is cut in the windpipe, allowing a ventilator to force
air into the lungs.
Chronic bronchitis creates a
build-up of pus-filled mucus, resulting in a painful cough and breathing difficulties.
83 per cent of deaths from emphysema and
bronchitis in England are smoking related.
Smoking makes the heart beat faster,
raises blood pressure and increases the risk of hypertension and clogged arteries.
Almost half of all young deaths (i.e. below
age 65) from heart disease are caused by smoking.
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers
to have a sudden cardiac arrest and also twice as likely to die from coronary heart
In fact, one in six deaths in the UK that
are caused by heart disease happened because the victim was a smoker.
Smoking can damage blood vessel walls,
making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the extremities.
In extreme cases, Buergers disease is
a rare form of peripheral vessel arteritis which is almost entirely confined to young men
(20 40) who are heavy smokers
Buergers disease can lead to gangrene
(the death of body tissue) and even the amputation of a limb. The association with smoking
is so strong that abstinence can lead to resolution of the lesions. However, if patients
continue to smoke, amputation is inevitable.
(source: "Smoking and the Young",
The Royal College of Physicians, 1993)