A new report by the U.S. Surgeon General warns smoking is a causal factor in 10 diseases and conditions that were not previously definitively linked to cigarettes, including diabetes, arthritis, colorectal cancer and erectile dysfunction.
Smoking already has been linked by the Surgeon General to conditions including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and asthma.
In total, smoking is linked to more than 30 diseases and conditions, the report concludes. Cigarette smoking contributes to the death of 480,000 Americans each year, a substantial increase over the previous estimate of 443,000 deaths, The Wall Street Journal reports. The increase in smoking-related deaths has occurred at a time when fewer people are smoking, and those who are smoking do so less often, the article notes. Women are as likely as men to die from smoking-related diseases.
The increase in smoking-related deaths suggests the introduction of ventilated filters in cigarettes, along with increasing levels of cancer-causing chemicals, may be to blame, according to the newspaper. Smokers tend to cover up the filters and breathe in more deeply, which causes toxins to be pushed farther into the lungs. “I think they are more harmful today. We’re certainly worried,” Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak told the newspaper.
He stated in a news release, “How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks. Of all forms of tobacco, cigarettes are the most deadly – and cause medical and financial burdens for millions of Americans.”
The report was released 50 years after the landmark 1964 Surgeon General report, which linked smoking to lung cancer. That report led to health warnings on cigarette packs, bans on cigarette advertising, and other regulations. Currently, 18 percent of American adults smoke, down from 42 percent in 1965.