New Study Says Smoking May Contribute To More Deaths Than Previously Thought

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Can cigarettes get any more deadly? Apparently, they’ve been more deadly all along. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has suggested that cigarettes are even worse than previously believed. In fact, they may be responsible for an additional 60,000-120,000 American deaths per year.

The study, which pooled data from five studies of over 900,000 people from 2000 to 2011, found that “a substantial portion of the excess mortality among current smokers between [those years] was due to associations with diseases that have not been formally established as caused by smoking.”

According to the New York Times, smoking was already known to be the cause of almost half a million deaths per year in the U.S. Cigarettes have been officially linked to 21 diseases, including 12 different kinds of cancer. Now, it’s being suggested that smoking may be responsible for at least five other diseases not previously associated with cigarettes.

Researchers found that compared with people who had never smoked, the smokers in the study were about twice as likely to die from infections, kidney disease, respiratory ailments not previously linked to tobacco, and hypertensive heart disease. They were also six times more likely to die from a rare illness caused by insufficient blood flow to the intestines, says the Times.

The study also found a small increase in the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer among those who smoked, although those correlations were reportedly not as strong as the others.

In an editorial accompanying the published study, Dr. Graham A. Colditz of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said the new findings “showed that officials in the United States had substantially underestimated the effect smoking has on public health,” according to the Times. It’s official: cigarettes are even worse than you thought.