Cigarette smoking might cost you your ass

“I know that,” you say. But taken more or less literally, those words have a newly discovered and important meaning. According to a study published in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), smoking has been linked to an increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Edoardo Botteri, M.Sc., of the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to review and summarize published data examining the link between smoking and CRC incidence and death.
The researchers identified 106 observational studies, and the meta-analysis was based on a total of nearly 40,000 new cases of CRC. For the analysis on incidence, smoking was associated with an 18 percent increased risk of CRC. The researchers also found a statistically significant dose-relationship with an increasing number of pack-years (number of packs of cigarettes smoked/day, multiplied by years of consumption) and cigarettes per day. However, the association was statistically significant only after 30 years of smoking.
Seventeen studies were included in the analysis of mortality, which indicated that smokers have a 25 percent increased risk of dying from CRC than people who have never smoked. There also was an increase in risk of CRC death with increasing number of cigarettes per day smoked and for longer duration of smoking. For both incidence and death, the association was stronger for cancer of the rectum than of the colon.

So smokers concerned with the possibility of winding up with lung cancer can relax a little, because it’s now established that there’s one more disease that stands a decent chance of getting them first.

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  1. #1 by Orac on December 17, 2008 - 10:44 am

    This is actually a fairly unimpressive study. An 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer for someone smoking that’s only statistically significant after 30 years of smoking. Compare that to the up to ten-fold increased risk of lung cancer from smoking.
    Bottom line: There’s no comparison. The increased risk of CRC is modest at best, while the increased risk of lung cancer is astronomical.

  2. #2 by J-Dog on December 17, 2008 - 10:45 am

    Any information about the effects of quitting after 30-year heavy use? (Yeah. It’s all about me!)

  3. #3 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 11:07 am

    “So smokers concerned with the possibility of winding up with lung cancer can relax a little, because it’s now established that there’s one more disease that stands a decent chance of getting them first.”
    Nice, real nice. Do you even realize how ugly and contemptuous that is?

  4. #4 by PalMD on December 17, 2008 - 11:09 am

    Yes…quitting can significantly decrease your risk of vascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, and amputation, and cutting down won’t do.
    Your lungs are what they are. You can slow the damage a lot by quitting, but after 30 years, there will still be a risk of cancer.

  5. #5 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 11:10 am

    “Do you even realize how ugly and contemptuous that is?”
    No. But I do recognize sarcasm, and I also understand that smoking is a ugly and contemptible habit.
    Orac–I don’t think the researchers are claiming that the risk of CRC from smoking is anywhere close to that of lung CA. This is the first I have heard of any increase in CRC risk, so that is where the significance of the study lies.

  6. #6 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 11:15 am

    “No. But I do recognize sarcasm, and I also understand that smoking is a contemptible habit.”
    What you really mean is “smokers are contemptible.” Reasonable people don’t even question it anymore – it’s perfectly acceptable to make venomous remarks about smokers and fairly delight in discovering new ways they can die. You’d never say that about any other unhealthy habit, no matter how stupid. Just smokers. They’re scum anyway, right?

  7. #7 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 11:21 am

    Wrong, Josh, what I mean is, as always, exactly what I wrote: that smoking is a contemptible habit. Having had many friends and family members who smoke or have smoked, I, like most people, learned long ago to divorce the habit–any addictive behavior, actually–from moral concerns or other judgments.
    “You’d never say that about any other unhealthy habit, no matter how stupid. Just smokers.”
    Do a search on this blog for “obesity.” You might find that I have no particular gripe with nicotine addicts.
    So fuck you and your silly assumptions, and consider taking your defensive-minded crybaby bullshit somewhere else. I’m sure someone will validate your grievances for you.

  8. #8 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 11:29 am

    Yep, it’s just being a crybaby. You couldn’t possibly have written anything that could be construed as the least bit ugly. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted you Kevin (which is possible, obviously), but you might ask yourself if there’s a reason why someone might see your post the way I did. “Fuck you?” Jesus dude. A fine “blow it your ass” to you, too.

  9. #9 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 11:31 am

    “Jesus dude.”
    Please do not blaspheme.

  10. #10 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 11:34 am

    “Please do not blaspheme.”
    How about on Fridays? Can we have just one day?

  11. #11 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 11:40 am

    Fine. All days ending in “y” are acceptable.
    Back to the main topic: OK, yes, I agree that what I wrote could be construed as somewhat crass–but to to cancer patients, not to smokers. And I use “fuck you” as a term of endearment, but only on my birthday.

  12. #12 by JThompson on December 17, 2008 - 11:54 am

    I’d like to be shocked, but I’m not.
    We’ve known for a long time smoking was pretty much like juggling grenades. It wasn’t a matter of if just when something was gonna get blown off and what got blown off.
    I don’t worry much about causing lung cancer in myself, I mostly try to avoid causing it in others.
    Most people don’t even know I smoke unless they actually come to my house. Even then I have a specific room to smoke in so the non-smokers aren’t breathing it.
    Speaking as a smoker of 10 years, it’s a stupid habit. A really stupid habit.
    There are lots of stupid habits. Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, meth, caffeine, etc are all stupid.
    Just because snorting an 8 ball a day is worse than smoking doesn’t remove the stupid from smoking.
    And I’m usually the one defending my fellow smokers against the “Let’s make them 2nd class citizens!” brigade.

  13. #13 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 12:01 pm

    Thanks Kevin – I only wanted Fridays, but I’ll take all days ending with “y”! I’m going to try out the “fuck you” the next time I’m angling for a favor, and I’m not even going to wait for my birthday.
    I apologize, too, if I overreacted. From a smoker’s perspective, there’s been a noticeable social creep toward out and out viciousness from nonsmokers. The whole Overton Window has shifted so far, and I don’t think it’s obvious to nonsmokers who aren’t on the other side of it.
    I’m with JThompson, too. Nothing takes the dumb, the unwise, or the foolish out of smoking, but we all know that anyway.
    Cheers from snowy Vermont.

  14. #14 by PalMD on December 17, 2008 - 3:09 pm

    Wow. Your trolls are way better than my trolls.
    Yes, smoking is a habit to which just about any negative adjective can be attached, and rightly so. So fail to criticize it properly is as good as condoning it, so while I don’t hate smokers, I hate smoking as a horribly dangerous, expensive, execrable, evil habit that sucks the life out of individuals and sucks money and productivity out of society as a whole.

  15. #15 by Rev. BigDumbChimp on December 17, 2008 - 3:21 pm

    If the health reason isn’t enough to make someone quit (and it obviously isn’t)… how about cost.
    Our company’s insurance provider is giving all non smokers a 10% reduction in cost of insurance for employees and spouses.
    Not to mention what cigs cost these days. If I still smoked (15 or so years now) I’d be quitting on financial reasons alone not to mention the obvious reasons.

  16. #16 by JoshS on December 17, 2008 - 5:21 pm

    PalMD, I’m not a troll, I’m a regular SciBlogs reader and sometime commenter. There’s a difference between being a troll and taking issue with a blog post. Sheesh.

  17. #17 by Lola on December 17, 2008 - 9:41 pm

    I’ve been smoking since I was 15 and I know that studies say I’ll have a shorter life because of it. The thing is, if I hadn’t had cigarettes all these years, I would have died already. My cursory cost-benefit analysis tells me it’s been worth it, although in 30 years I may regret it. Just because you were lucky enough to have the neurological wiring and stress-free home environment growing up to dodge the bullet and avoid starting, it doesn’t mean you have the right to look down on people with moral disdain who did not have those opportunities.

  18. #18 by Richard Eis on December 18, 2008 - 3:52 am

    -doesn’t mean you have the right to look down on people with moral disdain who did not have those opportunities.-
    No one did…and you don’t have to keep smoking if you don’t want to. It’s all about you…just like your post.

  19. #19 by Rev. BigDumbChimp on December 18, 2008 - 10:11 am

    The thing is, if I hadn’t had cigarettes all these years, I would have died already.

    Wait
    What?

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