home
RSS
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 (802 Responses)
  1. Content Marketing Consultant

    Very good info. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

    http://www.exatanews.com.br/banners.php?id_banner=54&url=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Local Marketing Firms

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!

    http://www.dddadmin.org/action.cfm?md=emaillist&task=addmessageclickthru&msgid=1151&uid=djf!hfkaj`&encoded=1&redirect=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Digital Marketing Events Near Me

    http://natureceuticals.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Google Marketing Contractor

    https://www.af-ad.co.uk/adclickthru.php?url=affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Content Marketing Agency Near Me

    http://www.3dcreaturesex.com/cgi-bin/at3/out.cgi?id=188&trade=http://affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. GtnbCrulk

    herbal viagra green box http://jokviagra.com/ viagra uses

    May 11, 2021 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Programs

    I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

    http://www.netauto.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bulknearme.com

    May 11, 2021 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Video Marketing Experts

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    https://gkhsoft.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://bestlocalnearme.com

    May 11, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Content Marketing Program

    https://www.asiantube18.com/go.php?url=https://www.cleanuponlinereputation.com

    May 11, 2021 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. fiberglass dent repair

    I was able to find good info from your articles.

    https://bibliopam.ec-lyon.fr/fork?https://ocrv.today/rv-repair-shop-fontana-california

    May 11, 2021 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Interior Designer Near Me

    I'm extremely pleased to discover this site. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and I have you book marked to look at new stuff on your website.

    http://mercadolatinoinc.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-yorba-linda-2

    May 11, 2021 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Couches Orange County

    http://www.emiratesislamicbank.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.g.page/OCRVFleetServices

    May 11, 2021 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. chassis repair shop near me

    http://kebrt.webz.cz/download.php?url=https://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/rv-repair-shop-sunland-tujunga-california

    May 11, 2021 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. truck shop orange

    http://www.xiguaji.com/service/link/?url=https://ocrv.me/tractor-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. riverside collision repair provo

    I was pretty pleased to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have you book-marked to look at new stuff in your web site.

    https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https://ocrvcenter.info/motorhome-leak-repair-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. stake center near me

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

    http://action.ae911truth.org/dia/logout.jsp?killorg=50694&redirect=http://youtube.com/watch?v=KjpMaYNJbOg

    May 12, 2021 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Solar Panels Systems Orange County

    Hello there, I do believe your web site could be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful site!

    http://spydernetmn.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.youtube.com/channel/UChUH5GdtSzHx6V02C90mnfQ/videos

    May 12, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Parts Orange County

    http://www.hri-eu.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-yorba-linda

    May 12, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. AnooEncox

    receta para hacer viagra casero http://llviagra.com/ – viagra internet arnaque gold viagra from china

    May 12, 2021 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Plumbing Los Angeles

    You're so cool! I don't think I've truly read through something like that before. So nice to discover somebody with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

    http://mortimerliterary.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.goo.gl/maps/iCzoZ1dDPjhG6Dsh6

    May 12, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. american leak detection orange county

    It’s hard to find experienced people for this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    https://www1.arbitersports.com/Content/HideMobileAlerts.aspx?redirectUrl=https://ocrvcenter.org/rv-repair-shop-san-gabriel-california

    May 12, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. orange county truck shop

    This excellent website truly has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    http://bb3x.ru/go.php?http://youtube.com/watch?v=OrDZrD-jDlk

    May 12, 2021 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Bathroom Los Angeles

    http://www.whinn.dk/app_plugins/newsletterstudio/pages/tracking/trackclick.aspx?nid=156067187188044165148237084073171191251137161122&e=027005103002216175057101042219076015036141078057117085192023104049221192133247061124195215027072&url=http://yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-anaheim-2

    May 12, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Ford Van Repair

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people don't speak about these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!

    https://ams.ceu.edu/optimal/optimal.php?url=https://fleetservicerepairshop.com/airport-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Sound System Los Angeles

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

    https://adra.us/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=facebook.com/ocrvcenter

    May 12, 2021 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. CTdoZoOwXq

    service trip essay buy essays uk resume writing service fresno ca medical school essay editing service

    May 12, 2021 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Los Angeles

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this in my search for something relating to this.

    https://oakracing.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=yelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-yorba-linda-2

    May 12, 2021 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. orange county truck shop

    I'm excited to discover this page. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new stuff on your web site.

    http://clients3.weblink.com.au/clients/aluminalimited/priceframe1.aspx?link=https://ocrv.info/garbage-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Leave a Reply to Vapor Right


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

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.