Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer

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Yes, it is true, smoking does not cause lung cancer.  It is only one of many risk factors for lung cancer. I initially was going to write an article on how the professional literature and publications misuse the language by saying “smoking causes lung cancer”1,2, but the more that I looked into how biased the literature, professional organizations, and the media are, I modified this article to one on trying to put the relationship between smoking and cancer into perspective. (No, I did not get paid off by the tobacco companies, or anything else like that.)

When the tobacco executives testified to Congress that they did not believe that smoking caused cancer, their answers were probably truthful and I agree with that statement. Now, if they were asked if smoking increases the risk of getting lung cancer, then their answer based upon current evidence should have be “yes.”  But even so, the risk of a smoker getting lung cancer is much less than anyone would suspect.   Based upon what the media and anti-tobacco organizations say, one would think that if you smoke, you get lung cancer (a 100% correlation) or at least expect a 50+% occurrence before someone uses the word “cause.”

Would you believe that the real number is < 10% (see Appendix A)? Yesa US white male (USWM) cigarette smoker has an 8% lifetime chance of dying from lung cancer but the USWM nonsmoker also has a 1% chance of dying from lung cancer (see Appendix A).  In fact, the data used is biased in the way that it was collected and the actual risk for a smoker is probably less.  I personally would not smoke cigarettes and take that risk, nor recommend cigarette smoking to others, but the numbers were less than I had been led to believe.  I only did the data on white males because they account for the largest number of lung cancers in the US, but a similar analysis can be done for other groups using the CDC data.

You don’t see this type of information being reported, and we hear things like, “if you smoke you will die”, but when we actually look at the data, lung cancer accounts for only 2% of the annual deaths worldwide and only 3% in the US.** (ed: note, roughly 8% in Canada from WHO data)

James P. Siepmann, MD, read more.

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