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April 20th, 2011
08:45 AM ET

How quickly does lung cancer develop for smokers?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

I started smoking socially in high school and still do. How long would it take for someone like me develop lung cancer?

Asked by Tom of Cleveland

Expert Answer

Dear Tom,

There have been several questions about smoking recently. I thought your question really important. In answer to it, there is no such thing as a safe amount of cigarette smoking. I urge you to quit. Studies show that it is far easier for a light smoker to quit than someone who smokes a pack and a half or more per day.

Also keep in mind there is no such thing as a safer cigarette. The risk of lung cancer does increase with both the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years a person has smoked. A 35-year-old male who smokes fewer than 25 cigarettes per day is estimated to have a 9% lifetime chance of dying of lung cancer, whereas 25 cigarettes per day or more gives him an 18% lifetime chance of dying of lung cancer. There are some estimates that lifetime risk of lung cancer in a very heavy smoker is about 30% overall, whereas it is 1% or less in nonsmokers. This translates into about a third of very heavy smokers developing lung cancer. Also, 15 to 20 of every 100 patients who have lung cancer are lifelong nonsmokers. Some get it because of secondhand smoke and some get it for unknown reasons.

People who start smoking at younger ages are at higher risk later in life. Lung cancer rates begin increasing in the mid to late 40s and peak in the late 70s. Many people think low tar or filtered cigarettes are safer. The truth is most people will compensate for these cigarettes by inhaling deeper and/or smoking more cigarettes in order to satisfy their need for nicotine.

While you ask about lung cancer, it is important to remember that occasional cigarette use can increase risk of cardiovascular disease dramatically. This is very pertinent, because cigarette smoking kills more people from cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease) than all cancers combined. It is a common observation that a town that makes smoking in public illegal lowers it heart attack rate within six months. This is primarily because the decrease in secondhand smoke exposure decreases the number of heart attacks in nonsmokers. Just think about the dose of smoke to even a casual smoker over six months compared to a nonsmoker exposed to occasional secondhand smoke.

Cigarette smoking is linked to a number of diseases. Lung cancer is most famously associated, but tobacco smoking causes cancers of the head and neck (mouth, throat, sinuses), esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, bladder, uterine cervix and even certain types of leukemia. Fourteen different cancers in all are caused by smoking. Smoking also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as bronchitis and emphysema. It worsens asthma. Smoking is linked to high blood pressure, ulcers, osteoporosis, diabetes and reproductive disorders such as infertility, miscarriage and premature menopause.

There are significant benefits to smoking cessation. Most tobacco-related disease can be prevented if one stops smoking by age 40. Even for older people and for those with tobacco-related disease, there is significant benefit to smoking cessation. Short-term, cessation causes cravings, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating and restlessness. Some may have a worsening of the smoker's cough. Long term, many complain of weight gain and increased depression.

Someone who is thinking of quitting should seek counseling from a physician or other experienced health care professional. Nicotine gum, nicotine patches and some other medications can be very helpful with smoking cessation. Counseling through telephone quit lines and internet support groups can also be helpful.


soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. dom625

    "Some get it [lung cancer] because of secondhand smoke...This [heart disease decrease] is primarily because the decrease in secondhand smoke exposure decreases the number of heart attacks in nonsmokers"

    Okay, so many people have been whining about secondhand smoke causing all sorts of ills in nonsmokers, but I would like to see proof, hard proof, that this is true. All I have read are correlational studies, but anyone with a brain cell should know that correlation does not equal causation. For every one person who claims that he/she has suffered horribly because of secondhand smoke, there are a dozen more who are or were exposed on a daily basis with no side effects. So to the two statements above, I say prove it!

    April 20, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob Hershfield

      Billings, montana passed a law against smoking in public places. After 6 months, lower courts reversed it. 6 months later
      the state supreme court upheld it. The incidence of heart attacks in nonsmokers only-not smokers- dropped by 50%,
      then returned to baseline levels, then dropped again by 50%. This is also consistent with 50% decrease in heart attacks in nonsmokers seen in Italy and nyc. Bob

      April 20, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse |
    • Lindsey

      A friend of mine died from lung caner. She never smoked a cigarette in her life, but her parents and husband all smoked in their home.

      April 20, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
    • Lindsey

      *cancer*

      April 20, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • amy

      Shame on your ignorance! Why take chances? Do you smoke? Do you love those around you? You say there is no proof that second hand smoke causes disease. However, is there proof that it DOSENT? Why chance fate? Second hand smoke may or may not cause disease, so just dont smoke around other people. Its that easy.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • Ruderalis

      @amy: Why take chances driving a car when you could get into a car accident? Why go outside when there are cancerous rays from the sun coming? dom625 was simply questioning the statistics, which are typically written by parties who have financial interest in them. Do you believe everything our FDA or CNN tells us? Try thinking for yourself sometime.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      LIndsey, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to lung cancer: asbestos, air pollution, even chlorine vapors from swimming pools. There is no way to definitively prove that your friend got her lung cancer from secondhand smoke.

      Amy, yes, I smoke. And I smoke in my home. And I smoke around my family. And yet none of us have allergies, asthma, or breathing problems. Of the thirteen grandchildren in my family (we're adults now), eleven were raised in a smoking household. I am the only one that smokes and none of us have any problems. Until we have solid evidence that proves that secondhand smoke causes problems, then nonsmokers need to back off.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Myself

      My grandmother died from lung cancer, never smoked a day in her life, was never around smoke a day in her life. Lung cancer can happen to anyone, not just smokers.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Kedwards

      Dom, We won't back off and in fact if I ask you to not smoke in front of me and you say no, you will be smoking the cig in your eye. Your addiction is clouding your judgement and takes precedent over your family members health. You are a sad individual.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Kedwards: What good do threats do? If I'm smoking and you don't like it, simply go away. It's as easy for you to move as it is for me to move. And you have no right to pass judgment on me. Keep your name-calling to yourself.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • John

      Kedwards – you might want to mind your own business. You DO NOT have the right to assault anyone. Just because you don't have the ability to tell when the anti-tobacco nuts are rigging the research results to make their point, that does not give you the right to assault anyone. And, for the record, you (or anyone else) who assualts me for smoking a cigarette will have a whole lot more to worry about than a wisp if cigarette smoke.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Stinky Pete

      This does not answer the question, but I think this site from Cancer.gov is worth checking out.

      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/ETS

      I cannot argue with your statement regarding correlation vs causation. But it is rather difficult to recruit volunteers for a randomized clinical trial when the endpoint you are trying to prove is increased mortality, don't you think?

      When most women did not smoke back in the 1930s, less than 1% of cancer deaths were from lung cancer. Now, lung cancer kills more women than breast and colon cancers combined. Smoking really is bad for you. If you must smoke, do it. But please don't do it in front of your loved ones.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Stinky Pete, back in the 30s, the vast majority of people did not zip around most of the day in cars nor were they concerned with air pollution from factories. A lot has changed over the past 80 or so years, so we cannot say that cigarettes are solely to blame for the increase in lung cancer in ladies. Besides, what percentage of the female population smokes?

      April 20, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Dom,
      Do you like to taste food? Do you like to smell things? Do you understand that your technical questioning is logical, but not rational? And do you get that denial in chemical dependency may not cause you to die, but that it is sad and pathetic because there is proof that millions of deaths have been caused by people, like you, who foolishly cling to substance use that doesn't add quality to life, rather makes you dependent and smelly! You probably think you have a "right" to health care too? Do you litter / throw your butts on the ground? Will you complain, if you survive, that society should put you up in a better nursing home, after spending your retirement savings on cigarettes and other no-quality-added to your life wasteful stuff? Give it up bro. You deserve better, don't you? Maybe not, it is legal so you do get to decide. But your irresponsible decision has so far cost all of us. Thanks!

      April 20, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • DJB

      dom625
      I am living proof that second hand smoke causes cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tonsil and it was attributed to my years of being exposed to second hand smoke in bars (I was a lifelong musician). I endured 35 radiation treatments to my neck, had some really awful chemo, had to eat through a feeding tube for 6 months, and had to relearn how to swallow. For the rest of my life I live in fear of osteoradionecrosis due to the radiation. Eating is a difficult and risky venture (regular bouts with the Heimlich Maneuver) and will be for the rest of my life.
      You can doubt it all you want, but the folks who treat cancer for a living and see it everyday have made the diagnosis and I lived through the horror of the treatment. Just because some people don't get cancer from second hand smoke doesn't mean that the ignorant idiots that have the right to expose people to their weakness. Some people won't get cancer, but some definitely will. Smoking is unnecessary but breathing is.

      April 20, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • chessyjames

      Well dom, there are also many smokers who "smoke on a daily basis" and suffer no obvious ill effects. So what? Does that prove to you that smoking is harmless?

      April 20, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      When I was a teenager in the 1960s, the Tobacco Industry was trying hard to persuade people that it was the use of matches that caused lung cancer. The same bums who have made billions by killing people now are trying to denigrate legitimate studies of second hand smoke. If you want to find the studies to confirm the dangers of second hand smoke, there are plenty. Or, you can continue to spread the rumors of the Tobacco Industry's propaganda. But, be careful of those matches.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • blondegeisha

      Whining? Why should people be exposed to any kind of toxic substance ?

      April 20, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      What kind of proof are you looking for? Almost all studies are correlational.

      April 20, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      I treat cancer for living. Anyone who claims smoking does not cause cancer is only fooling himself. Ditto for denying dangers of second hand smoke. I am happy to hear you and your family are cancer free, and I hope the good luck holds for your family's sake. But when the time comes when you, or your familly members you exhaled on, are lying on the hospital bed with cancer, stroke, heart attack, emphysema, or bronchitis (take your pick), I hope you will feel that it was all worth it.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
    • Proteus

      Actually Dom after reading your posts: Keep smoking. Natural selection will work out the rest. I have seen first hand it is a horrible way to go. Bon voyage.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • IronCelt

      Once met a woman who was a nonsmoker with lung cancer. Turns out she had been an airline flight attendant for 25 years–back in the '60s and '70s when people smoked on planes–so she was breathing the smoke of, like, 100 people every day, all day.

      April 20, 2011 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      I don't need research or losing a family member or anything else other than it is stinky and I trust my nose to guide me. When you smokers are done with your cigarettes and walk up behind me, your smell precedes you. Do you realize that? Blech. Can't be good.

      April 20, 2011 at 23:28 | Report abuse |
    • @-

      Isn't it great being an addict Dom.?.you are so addicted that you are willilng to jeopardize the health of your family, and then try to rationalize away the risk. The fact is that even if there was proof that secondhand smoke was harmful, you would still rationalize the harm you are doing because you are an addict and you are not in control of your behavior...nicotine is.

      April 21, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
  2. FredD

    YOU DIDN'T ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!

    April 20, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mer

      Exactly!!!!

      April 20, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jemmy

      That's exactly what I thought. The question was not answered. There was a lot of the usual smoking rhetoric, but the core questions was avoided. It's almost as if this was just some canned smoking article that could be placed whenever someone asks a smoking question. Terrible article.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Ed, Spring TX

      It's just like asking if you'll die if you don't wear a seat belt. The answer is maybe. Your chances of living to a nice old age is better if you don't smoke. No one can predict who will get cancer or a heart attack from smoking. Some heavy smokers live into their 90s. Some die when they're 40. You're just taking your chances if you smoke.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      The question was answered in terms of percentages based on age and years one smoked. Re-read the second paragraph. If your looking for an answer like five years, ten years your not going to find it.

      April 20, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    If cigarettes are so bad,. then why are they not illegal? Because the government is making money on it!

    April 20, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrew

      Really guy? So anything thats bad for you should be illegal? What a sad person you are. Everybody should have the right to do whatever they want. There are consequences, but they shouldn't be from the government.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Andrew,
      Never take ethics in HS or college? Yell fire in a crowded theater? Steal? No rights come with out prior responsibility. Human nature requires rules, laws and an organization to enforce such. You may like the idea of anarchy. Most of the rest of us are willing to give up ultimate freedom for secure freedoms. Wife and kids are down with that too.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • Ed, Spring TX

      Cigarettes and alcohol are the only legal substances that, if used according to directions, can lead to death.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Your right, tobacco and alcohol are taxed, the government profits from sales. However, the tobacco and alcohol industries are very powerful and have strong lobbies. It would impossible to ban tobacco and alcohol sales. Alcohol sales were banned one time and it was total failure. Organized crime took control.

      You ultimately are responsible what you inhale in your lungs and unless you lived your life in a cave everyone knows how harmful smoking is but people do it anyway. There is even a warning on every pack stating that it is harmful.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • Proteus

      I guess I am responsible for inhaling second hand smoke from the inconsiderates who stand right outside of the store exit. Not quite. Be considerate with your belief that cigarettes cause no harm.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  4. gc

    I'm shocked that if you smoke a pack a day for your whole life, you're risk of getting lung cancer is only 9%. That means you have a 91% chance of not getting it.

    I guess the anti-smoking propaganda has worked, because I though everyone who smokes dies because of it.

    April 20, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruderalis

      Thats what I was thinking. They never really said how long it takes either. If I started at 33 and I'm 35, is the risk the same as if I started at 13? The answer is obvious but they didn't mention a time line at all.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      duh, you really want to take your chances? to smoke? would you like to lick your own butt too, if they told you it was pretty safe? What if the stats are wrong? Oh, right, science is never wrong, they had it all figured out. Wrinkled skin, wicked bad breath and stinky clothes, total, profound chemical dependency is cool and good and ... ahhhh! Fools, too many fools!

      April 20, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Catcher

      It takes just about a day for scar tissue to form from smoking. This scar tissue leads to emphasemia progression. It is not curable except through lung transplantation. Cancer gets all the attention because it is sudden, but if you smoke for a long time, you have less air sacs in your lungs which stress your body, usually dying of a secondary infection such as pnuemonia. My grandmother dies of lung cancer, spending a year in its terminally stage. My mother passed away from lung cancer two months after diagnosis. Kemotherapy was not started in time to be effective because the disease progressed to her brain and major organs in a few weeks. Both were extremely painful deaths.

      Smoking is like playing rulette. Odds are you will die/lose the more you smoke.

      April 20, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      The reason for this is because most people die of a smoking related illness BEFORE the lung cancer forms. ANYONE that smokes long enough, if they actually LIVED long enough, would eventually get lung cancer. I'm not knocking you or smokers, I quit cold turkey 7 years ago. Best thing I EVER did for my health.

      April 20, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
  5. JH

    You did not answer the question. Tom from Cleveland asked how long it will take a social smoker to develop lung cancer. So....how long?

    April 20, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chrissy

      Yes, thank you for pointing this out. VERY annoying!!!

      April 20, 2011 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • slizzy

      THIS DOC IS TRYING TO EXPLAIN THAT THERE IS NO REAL TIME LINE, TOO MANY VARIABLES...IF THEY QUOTED THAT IT TOOK 'X' AMOUNT OF TIME BEFORE DEVELOPING CANCER, SOME IDIOT WOULD SUE THEM SAYING THEY DEVELOPED IT SOONER...SOME QUESTIONS JUST AREN'T AS CUT AND DRY OBVIOUSLY

      April 20, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Ed, Spring TX

      It doesn't take a genius to figure out from reading the article that it may never happen or it may happen when you're 40.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
  6. John

    "Also, 15 to 20 of every 100 patients who have lung cancer are lifelong nonsmokers. Some get it because of secondhand smoke and some get it for unknown reasons." Funny thing, 15 to 20 percent of people smoke. So, it appears that lung cancer rates for smokers and non smokers are the same. 80% of people who get lung cancer DON'T SMOKE! Seems to me the money the American Cancer Society (and all the other anti-tobacco nuts) spend fighting tobacco would be better spent trying to figure out what is causing the lung cancer in the 80% of the people who don't smoke.

    April 20, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Myself

      Smoking is unhealthy, but so is fast food. Problem is a bunch of people these days want to stick their nose in everyone else's business instead of minding their own....Then they don't give you the FULL statics, they hide reality in thefine print.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      John,

      your math skills are absolutely appalling, to the extent that you are deluding yourself! If 15-20 of 100 people with lung cancer are non-smokers, that means that 15-20% of people who get lung cancer do not smoke (not the 80% that you claim) and therefore 80-85% of lung cancer cases are smokers. You say that 15-20 of every 100 of us smoke (i.e. 15-20% smoke) ... that means that 15-20% of smokers make up 80-85% of the lung cancer cases. Doesn't take much math to realize that smokers are MUCH more likely to get lung cancer than non smokers.

      Now I know how our politicians are able to dupe the majority of Americans – we're so bad at math that they can pull anything over our eyes! As one famous conservative once said "There are ideas that sound good, and then there are good, sound ideas." Sounds like you're gonna be victim to the former part of that quota a lot unless you learn how to do some basic math!

      April 20, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • John

      OK Steve, so I read the stats incorrect, you are so smart. My basic point is still the same, if some people can smoke their entire life and never get lung cancer, it's not the cigarette that is causing lung cancer! It's obvious to anyone with a brain that something else is causing lung cancer if someone who smokes their entire life (some to 100 years old) and never get lung cancer. And LAR, I don't care whether you dislike the smell of cigarette smoke or not, there are PLENTY of other smells that I don't like, but I do not have the right to tell other people what they can do. You anti-tobacco crybabies need to grow up.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      right, nice stat math. Stat's aside. Is inhaling superheated carcinogenic chemicals compounds into your lungs (which you need your entire life to breathe) a good idea, or a bad idea, if you had to chose one? Your answer is simple and is directly related (yes you do have vs. no you don't have) to your ability to distinguish be right and wrong, excuse making and maturity and self control. Are some of you really arguing it's OK to smoke tobacco? Legal sure, fine with that. But to deny it's dangerous. You must not know the first thing about medicine, health care, biology. DENIAL kills.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Former puffer

      No, of COURSE the fact that someone who smoked their whole lives didn't get lung cancer doesn't mean cigs don't cause lung cancer. It just means that some people have genetics that override the risk, and some with weaker genetics cannot. Most cancers are a combo of environment, lifestyle and genetics, and we all have varied risks when it comes to environment and genetics.

      April 20, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • So Much Denial

      Math is not your strength, nor is research for that matter. 85 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are atrributed to smoking.
      Is is a testament to the power of nicotine addiction that people ignore and make up statistics to justify what they are doing to themselves. I know, I was one at one point. No, there is not some widespread anti tobacco conspiracy trying to make smoking seem more dangeroous that it is. The facts speak for themselves. I don't care if other people smoke or not, but at least be honest with yourself about the consequences to your health and the fact that you are an addict.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  7. John B.

    Is Dr. Otis Brawley a politician? Why was the question was never answered?

    April 20, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Chimney

    It bugs me that public smoking is prohibited, when motor vehicles belch more toxicity than a pack of cigs could ever produce.

    April 20, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jessica

    I for one am thankful that public smoking is prohibited in most places – if you want to risk your life that's your business – smoke in your own home and car. But those who do not smoke also have the right to not be around it in public places! I definitely do not be around it and I do not want my children around it!

    April 20, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. LAR

    John, your math is wrong. It is true that 15 to 20% of lung cancer patients are nonsmokers. But 80% of lung cancer patients are smokers. The percentage of smokers who are lung cancer patients - that I don't know. There is a greater connection between smoking and emphysema and cadiovascular disease. There may be yet unknown genetic factors in lung cancer, because many smokers never develop it. So maybe the ones who do are more vulnerable in some way.
    Nonsmokers don't like smoke because it is possibly dangerous - but also because it stinks. Smokers can't smell it that way. But it stinks. It is also a sticky, greasy thing. If I walk through a cloud of smoke in the morning, my hair and clothes will smell of smoke until I shower and launder. Smoke smell sticks on furniture and walls in a house. It is just unpleasant. I used to live in an apartment where my neighbor went out on his balcony and smoked. The intake of the air conditioning brought that smell into my apartment. I had to move because otherwise I had a headache all the time from the stench. The smoke itself is an imposition because it spreads everywhere. If there were a way to take the drug without imposing it on other people - like if it were a pill, then you could go harm your own health or whatever in your privacy. But the way smoke stinks and spreads makes it an impostion on everyone around a smoker.

    My mother died of lung cancer. She smoked from her teen years through her early forties and then quit. She died at 76. I don't know why she died thirty years after quitting. I can't help but think my father's death the previous year had something to do with it. Her older brother, also a smoker, outlived her. He never had lung cancer, but he had heart failure, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer. What role smoking played, who knows? One of the things with lung cancer is that it is one of the deadliest cancers. It kills very quickly, and not much helps in terms of chemotherapy.

    But your health is your business. It only becomes other people's business if it imposes on them. If you are a heavy drinker and cause an accident that hurts other people; if you are a heroin addict and steal to support your habit; if you are a smoker and stink up the place - all of those become other people's business because it affects their life and property. It's the old adage: your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

    April 20, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      LAR, you complain of the smell of smoke, but what about other disgusting smells that originate from other things? Drive past any fast food joint and all you smell is grease and lard, smells that permeate the clothes and cause intense nausea and gagging. But no one complains of that.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Watch someone die of lung cancer. Then talk about statistics.

    April 20, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruderalis

      Another stupid comment. People die of lung cancer everyday who have never smoked idiot.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Marilyn Gerhardt

      Yes; anyone who has cared for a loved one dying of lung cancer certainly understands the effects of smoking, It was a very long, 5 months for me ..... and certainly must have felt like an eternity for my husband. Fortunately, none of our 8 children (nor their spouses) are smokers. I won't be so naive as to say my kids did not TRY smoking at some point in their lives, but I thank God they did not continue the habit. I hope my grandchildren will be as fortunate.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  12. BillinSD

    Mme Jeanne Calment, who was listed as the world's oldest human whose birth date could be certified, died at 122. She had begun smoking as a young woman.

    At 117 she quit smoking (by that age she was just smoking two or three cigarettes per day because she was blind and was too proud to ask often for someone to light her cigarettes for her). But she resumed smoking when she was 118 because, as she said, not smoking made her miserable and she was too old to be made miserable.

    She also said to her doctor: "Once you've lived as long as me, only then can you tell me not to smoke." Good point! [USA Today, "Way to go, champ," 10/18/95].

    When Mme. Calment died at 122 in l997, the new longevity champ became 116-year-old Marie-Louise Meilleur, of Canada.

    Mme. Meilleur had chain-smoked all her adult life (as her grandson said, "She always had a cigarette dangling from her lips as she worked,"–AP, 8/15/97, reported in Miami Herald, p. 2A). She did give up smoking, however, when she was nearly 100.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cynic

      The anti-smoking campaign is a "smoke screen" to hide the fact that pollution in and out of the workplace is making us sick. Yeah, Big Business is just filled with altruistic people who wouldn't make a profit risking the lives of others. Right!

      April 20, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Well there you go ... she'd be turning 136 this year if she hadn't smoked!

      April 20, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • :-)

      and about 2% of people that jump off the Golden Gate bridge survive. I am not sure what your point is.

      April 21, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  13. George Jaxson

    Cigarette companies put known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) into tobacco products as additives to improve the taste and promote addiction. Here is an interesting fact: one brand of pipe tobacco had RAT POISON added in non-lethal doses because it made it more addictive (I'd specify the brand, but I fear it would cause my post to be deleted). This information was most famously disclosed in court by a former tobacco company toxicologist. He was threatened with death by folks associated with his former employer. Check out the court testimony at http://www.jeffreywigand.com/pascagoula.php for yourself. I have a family member who has smoked since he was a teen, and is now dying in his mid-50s from esophageal cancer. If even one person reads this post and decides to quit smoking, I've made a positive impact...

    April 20, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JEH

    Why does Dr. Brawley lecture on evils of smoking but fail to answer the simple question Tom asked: how quickly does lung cancer grow in smokers? He could have (and should have) answered this in one or two sentences, and maybe included a sentence about the rapid increase of mouth cancer in young chewers of smokeless tobacco. As a medical professional who works in oncology, I am not impressed with this answer. Just answer Tom's question. Don't lecture.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George Jaxson

      JEH- I agree that lecturing doesn't work. When discussing the topic of smoking, facts are best. I think the reason Dr. Brawley avoids specifically answering the question regarding tumor growth is that it varies by individual. It would have been helpful for him to provide a range of growth rates, I suppose (e.g.,small-cell often grows at a rate up to X cm per year). For the record, my hat is off to you as you noted that you are a medical professional who works in oncology. I don't think I could deal with the struggles and loss that come through your office door all the time.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      It is very difficult for me to believe that you are a medical professional in oncology because the answer is very complex.
      First of all smoking may not lead to lung cancer and if it does it has to do with the age one started, the amount smoked, what they smoked, and how long they smoked. It also has to do with other particles that are inhaled.

      What the doctor should have said at the end of the article is there is no way to predict how quickly lung cancer will develop in a smoker or if it will develop at all.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
  15. Cynic

    Yes, if someone who smokes gets lung cancer, it's his fault. Perhaps it had something to do with the poisonous atmosphere that his boss subjects him to every day. Oh, we all know that those nice business people would never do anything to jeopardize the health of their employees, don't we? We're just imaging it when we cough and choke every time we enter the workplace. We all know that the employer is not to blame when you are working with chemicals that make you so ill that you have to vomit. Or when you come home covered from head to foot in green powder. The employer doesn't care. OSHA doesn't care (as long as no one dies while working, things must be fine). Government doesn't care. When my husband came to this country, I warned him that employers would treat him like a dog in America. He has been amazed by dangerous workplace practices that would have businesses shut down in his country. He's amazed at the number of industrial deaths that have occurred within a 50-mile radius of our home this past year (29 die in a single mining accident). And yet, if you get lung cancer, it's probably because you smoke. HOGWASH!

    April 20, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George Jaxson

      Cynic- your thoughts about workplace exposures and the risk from smoking actually go hand-in-hand, even if you don't realize it. Here is an example: if one is exposed to asbestos, they take on a risk of "X" of getting cancer at some point. However, if that same person also smokes, his/her risk of developing cancer doesn't just double- it increases tenfold or greater! (This is known as a synergistic effect.) As one who has spent time as an industrial hygienist, I encourage you to speak up if you believe folks are being exposed to workplace toxins. If the government doesn't act, do some research on your own (I know you can do this- you have already proven to be able to use a computer!) and work through the media to get your concerns some attention. You can do this relatively anonymously if need be to protect your husband's job. If you really believe he is being exposed to things that will kill him, you have a responsibility to him, his co-workers, and yourself to act.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Cynic

      Thanks George. My brothers have a list of the chemicals that are killing them. But if their plant is shut down, they will never be able to get another job that pays unskilled labor $14/hr. Believe me, I'd like to let the whole world know, but I also don't want to be the one that causes my brothers to lose their livelihood and their home. I'd say that this scenario is played out all over America. People are afraid to say anything because a plant shutdown in this economy is almost as bad as dying young.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
  16. Georgie Porgie

    But,he didn't answer the person's question: when somebody is diagnosed with lung cancer, how long has the cancer already been in existence in the person's lungs ?

    April 20, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      There's no easy way to know. First, not everyone is diagnosed at the same stage, so the tumor will have had longer to grow in some than in others. Second, different types of lung cancer grow at different rates. Obviously, it all starts with one cell that mutates into a cancerous cell and begins to form a tumor, but the time the tumor takes to become large enough to be detected is going to vary by the type of cancer (small cell vs. non-small cell), the time the person goes in to be checked, and the kind of test and equipment used to look for it.

      I think what the person really wants to know is when their smoking passes the point that the die has been cast, so to speak. When have they smoked enough to trigger the cancer to form? Honestly, no one knows. And, even if there is such a point, it will almost certainly be different for different people, based on factors that we just don't fully understand yet.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
  17. Dirk

    Didn't answer the question.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. dunn

    Wake up and stop rationalizing. Smoking kills people plain and simple. Keep it away from me and I don't have a problem with you harming yourself, but I certainly don't want to pay for your health problems out of my tax dollars. You should pay more for insurance and should be forced to pay additional dollars towards health care expenses in old age. As it is today we all pay for the ignorance and stupidity of those whom do not take care of themselves. Eating or smoking does not matter to me. Do what you want to yourself as long as it doesn't impede on my well being. If you are going to impact my life with your ignorance then I should have some say it protecting my interest from you.

    April 20, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kris

      Smokers DO pay more for insurance – health AND life. As for tax dollars supporting smokers' health care.... no more so than for those who are obese or practice other unhealthy habits, and ONLY if they are on Medicare or Medicaid. Give me a break.

      April 20, 2011 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
  19. Alex Santana

    Good or bad...cancer risk or not...the true bottom line is if you smoke...you smell! Your breath smells, your car smells and worst of all, your home smells...take it from those of us who don't smoke...we might not tell you, but you stink...and there is no way to hide that, Febreeze or not...whenever we come into a smoker's house, we want to gag. And if you wear a jacket or sweater that is not cleaned after one wearing...geez louise...so take your chances on getting cancer...but regardless...if you smoke, you smell...bad...and that is not for discussion...you do and we all talk about it behind your backs...if for no other reason you should stop smelling up the planet!

    April 20, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      Amen! Yuk!

      April 20, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • John

      You are a complete idiot. Grow up and live in the real world for a change, instead of the world you apparently live in. Probably one where your parents told you how "special" you were every day, and that the whole world revolved around your every whim. How sad you people are.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • Kandy-O

      I'm so glad you mentioned this. I grew up in a house where both parents were heavy smokers. My friends didn't ridicule me but did make it clear that I smelled bad from my parent's smoke. Both died in their 50s from cancer, and I cannot STAND the smell of stinky cigarette smoke, no matter where I am I find it completely intolerable and offensive. Even walking by someone in a grocery store that is a smoker makes me gag. Here's the issue, if you are a smoker, your sense of smell is completely desensitized, and so is your sense of taste. Smokers cannot tell that they smell bad, but again, I'm really glad someone else brought it up because I am ultra sensitive to the odor. You do reek bad, and no amount of coolness or addiction or stress relief that you receive from your disgusting habit can make me think it's ever worth the stench and certainly the health risk.

      April 20, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • Alex is Right

      John, that was an intelligent and insightful response.
      Are you so addicted that someone stating the truth evokes that kind of response. The fact is cigarette smoke permeates clothing, your hair, your car, your home, and it smells bed. Smokers don't even notice it.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
  20. christina

    I am unfortunately addicted to nicotine (I smoke). Despite this fact, I despise being in a closed area with other smokers, or myself. I smoke in our backyard or outdoors, as far away as possible from passers-by. I am glad that our city has banned indoor smoking as I can't enjoy a meal in a smoking section.

    April 20, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      How sad a person you are. If you don't want to smoke, then quit. Stop blaming everybody else for your inability to control your own life. And, for Christ sake, stop asking for other people to save you from yourself.

      April 20, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      If you have developed that much antipathy for smoking, maybe you should try nicotine gum or patches. You can still receive your nicotine boost without having to be exposed to smoke.

      April 20, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
  21. George Jaxson

    John- instead of calling others "sad," why not engage in an actual adult conversation about the science related to this topic? Take the time to read http://www.jeffreywigand.com/pascagoula.php. Anyone who is honest with himself after reading that transcript will be unable to defend smoking or the environmental contamination related to the practice.

    April 20, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      Of course you would reference a web site of a man that runs a non-profit that is supported by the anti-tobacco nuts (and all that anti-tobacco tax money). If you, or anybody else wants to read the other scientific evidence that reports the truth regarding smoking, you can take a look and these web sites: http://www.forces.org; http://www.freedomtochoose.info; or http://www.smokersclubinc.com.

      April 20, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
  22. Rita

    Last year I had both a brother and a sister diagnosed with lung cancer. Both of them life-long smokers. My brother was diagnosed in January and died September 11th. My sister was diagnosed in July and is undergoing treatment. Both of them were diagnosed as State IV because the cancer had spread to their brains. Usually, there are no early warning signs. I smoked for a number of years, but quit for good 15 yrs ago. I will always have the concern in my mind that I might develop cancer. I don't like walking through clouds of cigarette smoke when I leave a building or walk down the street. It's harmful to me and a reminder of my siblings' illness. But, I don't go up to them and pull the cigarette out of their mouths. It's your choice, but it's my choice too to have clean air!

    April 20, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ted

    I WAS A SMOKER FOR OVER 55 YEARS. My wife a non smoker developed severe asthma after we had been married for 35 tears. I blame myself for this. I quit smokig in our home and in her car but the damage was already done.I believe that her illness could have been avoided if I had shown more cosideration for her sooner.We have been married 52 years now but she will be on asthma medication and inhalers the rest of her life and will live with the guilt the rest of mine.Think about your loved ones.

    April 20, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Catcher

      Ted, that's not asthma. That's emphasemia. look it up. Asthma is what they are treating. When she gets older she'll need oxygen because she has less air sacs to breathe with.

      April 20, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Ted, don't beat yourself up. There are tons of possible asthma causes, ranging from reduced exposure to germs (the hygiene hypothesis–in which I am a strong believer) to increased environmental toxins to obesity/reduced exercise to mold/mildew spores. There is no way to determine whether you had anything to do with her asthma, so do not blame yourself. I hope she does well, though.

      And Catcher, that's not emphysema. You do not have enough evidence to make that call. Why don't you try and make this guy feel even worse about himself?

      April 20, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
  24. dom625

    I am truly sorry to hear about your cancer and wish you the best of luck in the future. However, doctors can say anything that they want; this does not necessarily mean that the statement is true. Sure, an oncologist can *say* that secondhand smoke caused your tonsil cancer, but are they 100% sure that smoke caused it? What about all of the people who spend lots of time in bars filled with smoke and never develop any problems (they far outnumber those who are "sensitive" to it)?

    April 20, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Law Student

    Why does CNN continue to allow Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, to answer questions about smoking which he passes off as medical advice. It's been the ACS's goal for 20 years to get rid of smoking entirely. He's not an "expert doctor," he's a propagandist. – That being said Dr. Brawley has told us a few useful things: up to twenty percent of those who develop lung cancer aren't smokers and even if you smoke your entire life your risk of dying from something other than lung cancer is as high as 91%. However, I have no idea where the good Dr. got any of these statistics... because he NEVER cites anything EVER. If he really wants to be convincing he should put a link in to some of the studies he references...

    April 20, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      If you don't believe him, go ask a doctor of your choosing. You'll very likely get the same answer. Just because you don't want to hear it doesn't make it any less true.

      April 20, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse |
  26. vmr

    You all are really missing the boat here. Do you really think that inhaling smoke for 30 years HAS NO EFFECT on the body? come on, no-one is that ignorant. ever sit in front of the campfire with the smoke in your eyes, and your clothes smelly? same thing.
    I've smoked since I was 16yrs old, (33 years now) and have always regretted it, but alas, i acknowledge that i'm addicted to smoking. I do not, however make it a point to annoy non-smokers with my smoke. It's called courtesy. If you caugh, you cover your mouth....why? to cover your germs that's why, yet you feel it's ok to blow smoke in someone's face. You know it's not as easy as moving away, that smell carries thru the air for a long distance.
    Here is the horrible truth: Cigarettes are bad and addictive, but not illegal because the gov't gets tax revenue. Ditto for alcohol. in addition, the health insurance companies can charge more, the doctors have more procedures to do, and the cycle all starts with one cigarette.
    Anyone with an inkling of intelligence has to know that it's bad for you, period end of story. you want to smoke, go ahead, i do. I'm not judging, but please call a spade a spade.

    Not sure how anyone in their right minds can rationalize that inhaling all the smoke, carcinogens, asbestos, formaldahyde and over 100 other ingredients in cigarettes is not bad for you.

    April 20, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. BillinSD

    Everyone knows you shouldn't smoke, cuz smokers die of heart disease and cancer...

    Ever wonder what non-smokers die of most often? HEART DISEASE AND CANCER!

    April 20, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Z

      Smokers just die of them at a much earlier age.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
  28. Ms. M

    If everyone is so worried about the dangers of smoking, why do we allow cigarette manufacturers in our country? Why not get rid of them altogether? True, no one has a right to tell you how to live your life, but when your bad health is caused by misuse of tobacco, liquor, etc., and millions of people in bad health increase our medical costs, then 'yes' the government has a right to stop your irresponsible way of life. Just like a parent is obligated to raise their kids responsibly, the same goes for those who don't know how to live responsibly. There are many people who are more prone to addictions than others and if we had these ill-health causing products beyond reach of their hands, the less of a problem we would have. I certainly wouldn't miss the choking smell of tobacco smoke, the drunk driver or the drug addict.

    April 20, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Helen

    The single greatest cause of lung cancer in woman is RADON gas, not cigarette smoke.

    April 20, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      Helen, you obviously haven't been exposed to enough anti-tobacco propaganda because you believe there is a substance more evil than tobacco.! I know I've seen enough of the anti-tobacco commercials to know that if there were no cigarettes everyone would live to be 200 years old and peace and harmony would exist throughout the world.

      April 20, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
    • :-)

      Odd that the American Cancer Society, The Cancer Care Alliance and the Center for Disease Control all say otherwise.
      Perhaps you should give them a call and bring them up to speed.
      I'll bet you are a smoker aren't you?

      April 21, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
  30. lhh

    Smokers are just dumb drug addicts, plain and simple. It is a scientific fact that cigarettes are addictive. The package warns of all the health risks, but they still smoke. When they get sick from smoking, everyone else has to help pay their medical bills through inflated insurance premiums. Pathetic.

    April 20, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. dave_in_altmar

    The question as asked does not have a definitive answer – so the good doctor couldn't "answer" it. The vulnerability to any kind of cancer is profoundly influenced by genetics.

    "Do you feel lucky?"

    April 20, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RM

    The question was not answered. But we're all still going to die of something...

    April 20, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      That may be true, but some ways to die are worse than others. Lung cancer is one of those. I just posted my father's experience. It hasn't shown up on the board yet, but, if and when it does, please read it, and you'll understand.

      April 20, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Yes, we are all going to die eventually.

      I would rather have my head severed off by the taliban than slowly die of lung cancer though....guess you have never seen someone wither away from lung cancer......you're pretty lucky.

      April 20, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
  33. Timmy

    you smokers are all sad.

    April 20, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. joyce

    Yes, smoking does cause cancer, among other things such as hardening of the arteries of the heart which lead to heart disease and heart attack. I know because my father died at age 56 of a heart attack. He had smoked cigarettes heavily since he was 14 years old. He had stopped smoking for 10 years before his first heart attack. He had high blood pressure from smoking and had his first heart attack at 49 years old. He had two arteries to his heart totally block from nicotine buildup that caused his heart attack. He had open heart surgery and the arteries replaced in 1971. It was pioneer surgery at the time the open heart surgery, replacing arteries from his legs. It was extremely hard and painful recovery, took a year to recover. He had his second heart attack 6 years later. During his second heart attack they did an x-ray and discovered that he was dying anyway because his one lung was totally black from cancer! So don't tell me that smoking isn't harmful to you and that you can't get cancer or other major health problems from it. My brother and I suffered severly from Asthma as children while my Dad smoked away inside of our house. Funny thing when he quit smoking those 10 years mine and my brother's asthma problems went away! His older brother smoked as well and he had chronic emphasema & bronchitis when he was older and died of congestive heart failure. Curently right now I am suffering from chronic asthma and breathing problems as a direct result from second hand smoke from my dad and being around my favorite uncle. Yes, my asthma came back. I have two tiny nodules on one lung that the Dr's are watching right now that are not cancerous. I just pray everyday that they don't turn cancerous. So, if you smoke right now, please stop, not only for yourself but for your family and especially your children! The town I live in just passed a non-smoking ordinance and I am so thankful.

    April 20, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. mike

    lol we pay all of the taxes,,ill smoke if i wont to so shut up .. idiots

    April 20, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      No one says you can't. But you're betting your life that nothing will happen. If you're OK with that, then go for it.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
    • Boog

      You are free to smoke if you want to. But are you smoking because you want to, or because you are an addict?

      April 21, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  36. Rick

    No one ever really answered the original question and there is a lot of pontificating going on. What a waste of cyberspace.

    April 20, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      That's because it's unanswerable. You might as well ask when Parkinson's begins. Was it there all along, even before the symptoms appeared? Ditto for brain cancer. You simply can't know.

      April 20, 2011 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
  37. mpooh

    To those saying that they dont want to pay for our health problems(smokers) with their tax dollars. I pay a $100.00 more a month for my insurance at work because i smoke(they do a nicotine test) because i'm a risk, however the do not charge more if you drink( a risk for liver or pancreas problem, or driving while intoxicated) they dont charge more for people that have excessive speeding tickets, also a risk. or people who eat solely fast food, or fatty red meat, or people who skydive or people who go tanning twice a week, etc. I guess you get my point.

    April 20, 2011 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Proteus

    Wow. Unbelievable that people in this day can actually think they cause no harm. If you continue to smoke, it will catch up to you. You will find yourself gasping for the last few breaths of air only you will not be able to absorb the oxygen. You will feel dizzy and confused. You will think back to your smoking days and will think a little differently about it then. But hey, that is then, right? Keep smoking and you will see. I won't have to prove anything nor would I try as one who is addicted will come up with every excuse needed to feed it. I hope you are able to quit, but now you know how it will end. That is unless the bus hits you first. Hold out for that...

    April 20, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. PeterD

    Marion, a mother in her 40's... Life long smoker... Died 13 April 2011 of lung cancer... You cannot undo the damage that smoking does to your body. Trust me, in your 30s, 40s, and 50s is much too young to die of anything, especially if the death was unnecessary and could have been prevented by quitting smoking.

    April 20, 2011 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darthprophet

      Ever watcht he show a 1000 ways to die, trust me there are many stupid ways to die.
      There but he grace of God go I!
      I hear being a photojurnalist is pretty risky business as well.

      April 21, 2011 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
  40. opamper

    I highly suggest: The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr, it's truly a lifesaver. It changed my life and the lives of others i know. By far the best way to quit, and it involves not taking the addictive drug in another form like patches or gum. That would be like, "Hey, I wanna stop shooting heroin, so i think I'll snort it instead to ween myself off."

    April 20, 2011 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. TrueBlue42

    Tom of Cleveland's question was: How long would it take for someone like me develop lung cancer?
    Why does Brawley not answer it?

    April 20, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • opamper

      I think the answer was there was not any exact time frame......That is why medical things like this are listed in terms of likelihoods. Human genetics and medicine are far to complex for any time frames set in stone....

      April 20, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
  42. Proteus

    There are too many variables to consider to apply the same answer to many people. Tom of Cleveland asks for one answer for something that will differ from person to person. If it must be spelled out for you, you are probably an addict who is in denial. So keep saying "Tom didn't get an answer." He didn't get an answer like 32.42 years, you are right. Repeating the same thing does nothing. Blindly follow your addiction. I quit long ago because I have the will power to. Not everyone does and will die in the end a miserable death. I am sure your children will appreciate you putting them through you going through chemo and a horrific death. My mother never quit and died from it. I wouldn't wish the death nor anyone's children having to go through that on anyone. Good luck and I hope you quit.

    April 20, 2011 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. PipeSmokey

    The doc did not answer the question because no one knows and we get the usual and customary anti-smoking rant. The last really honest research on the cancer mortality of smoking was done in the late 1950's and the curve of number of cigarettes per day plotted with lung cancer incidence matched the mortality curve of radiation exposure and mortality. It showed that 9 or fewer cigs a day bore low risk for lung cancer, There is nuclear activation in tobacco because the lower leaves absorb products of the radon decay chain and the upper leaves may have effects of long term cosmic radiation as a function of the time required to grow a tobacco plant to harvestable maturity. There's less exposure to radionucleotides in second hand smoke, but it still aggravates and may potentiate respiratory problems. The time to contraction of a lung cancer from exposure to radon from earth or tobacco smoke depends upon when a gamma ray slices off a strand of DNA and a segment resects with another rogue strand to form a novel strand and the foreign result surviives. The odds of that are very small but given enough exposure, there's the chance that one of the huge number of these newly formed can become the basis of a immune response resistant neoplasm in the lung. There is no predicting when that can happen. Some people can smoke all of their lives and escape lung cancer (although the risk of unpleasant cardiovascular and other lung disorders remain regardless of tobacco smoke dosage) and others catch it at a young age. It's a matter of luck but one that can be minimized by cutting the daily dose to an acceptable risk. There is some merit in switching to premium cigarettes that have not been adulterated to make them more addictive, perhaps 9 or fewer per day, or to smoking pipe tobacco, the latter not inhaled but sufficient to sustain the pleasure of smoking with less risk. Both of these strategies require cessation of tobacco smoking to satiate addiction in favor of enjoying a good smoke now and then.

    April 20, 2011 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darthprophet

      well writen and thought out. thanks!

      April 21, 2011 at 00:49 | Report abuse |
  44. Ex smoker and proud

    Nothing sadder than running out of cigarettes and going crazy as a drug addict
    to find even a butt in the garbage to stave off the urge .
    Yes folks cigarettes are horrible and there is bo defense for using these addictive
    drugs. I went hriugh hell giving them up like a junkie and because it was so bad
    I will never go back ,they should be banned just for the arterial damage they do .

    April 20, 2011 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darthprophet

      Poor people shouldn't smoke!

      April 21, 2011 at 00:49 | Report abuse |
  45. jmd

    I lost my mother in law in 10 months from lung cancer, my 4 year old twin daughters asked me, mom when is gram coming back? It's almost 4 years later & I miss her every day. My daughters still talk about her & talk of her to my mom. SHe had so much to live for the the "smoke" was more important than what her future could have held...

    April 20, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darthprophet

      I lost my mother to cancer before my 17th birthday to cancer it had nothing at all to do with smoking, my kids never meet her shell we meet in a privet cry room? or grop up face the realities of live that is short and get on living?
      Damn we have become a nation of cry babies!

      April 21, 2011 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
  46. youallneedasmoke

    i want to say i am sorry to all those people who lost family and friends. the rest of us smokers need to just get over it and enjoy smoking for however long we can. try to be polite about where we smoke so as not to offend anyone. recognize!

    April 21, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • katsu

      yes, thank you! MANNERS, just be mindful of where you do it and who you do it in front of.

      April 21, 2011 at 02:13 | Report abuse |
  47. Darthprophet

    Smoking has quality of life issues for those that smoke. People don't smoke because it's cool, well not anyone over 21 anyways.
    Smoking for some enhances pleasure after eating a fine meal; it improves awareness and has been shown to improve iq.
    It helps deal with stress as well.
    Tobacco is the closest thing to giving one these enhancements to life to cocaine without the psychological effects that cocaine induces after 2 weeks of daily use.
    In the end it comes down to this we are all going to die! and none of us know when and how it is going to happen, so what matters in life is what you get out of of it while you're living it.
    Today it seems people seem to think they are going to live forever and at 77 they will be just as frisky as they were at 33, well that just ain’t the case. Sure medical science might someday stop cell regeneration, a pill might come around that grows a new organ, but in the end if you spend your life worried about what someone else is doing, you ain't living your life you are living someone elses. I guess that’s the obama way worried about what someone else is doing, not what you are!

    April 21, 2011 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • opamper

      lol, wow. Just, lol...... Certainly no medical or scientific info in your background, at least I hope not. If so, please go back to school. Your info on those drugs is quite incorrect.

      April 21, 2011 at 04:25 | Report abuse |
    • You are kidding yourself

      Smoking is an addiction-end of story.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
  48. annie

    I think the best way to get young people, especially girls, to quit smoking earlier on, is to post pictures in the school of a 50 year old that has smoked most of his or her life and one that hasn't ever smoked. That would stop the smart ones right away.

    April 21, 2011 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. katsu

    I think it's hilarious that there are posts by smokers who are basically saying, "prove it" and I say, WHY? It is OBVIOUS it's bad for you, so just shut up and quit. Yeah it's hard, but do your best...almost like your life was depending on it.

    April 21, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mon

    Geez, It's 2011 people! Stop smoking, who smokes anymore??

    April 21, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.