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 (942 Responses)
  1. Diesel Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own site now 😉

    http://respekkt.mbnet.fi/ciderbook/go.php?url=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com/sprinter-van-body-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. BbshMile

    viagra dosage 150 mg http://loxviagra.com/ how much is a viagra pill

    May 17, 2021 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Best Diesel Sprinter Repair Service

    I really love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thank you!

    https://phototo.com.ua/uk/redirect-to-site?client_id=258&url=https://www.ocrvfleetservices.com/utility-truck-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. E 150 Van Power Window Repair

    http://ibar.cc/link.php?url=http://boxtruckrepairshop.com/ram-luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mac Yonemori

    I'm very happy to uncover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I have you book marked to see new stuff on your web site.

    https://extraproxies.com/self-learning-ai-python-3-6/

    May 17, 2021 at 07:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mercedes Sprinter Van Repair Near Me

    https://www.shtrih-m.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?goto=http://fleetautorepairshop.com/rv-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. eGXsIWEVRk

    undergraduate dissertation help buy legal essay is there any point in doing homework wireless internet service provider business plan

    May 17, 2021 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter Return Line Repair

    http://ad.sxp.smartclip.net/optout?url=https://fleetservicesocrv.com/company-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Maserati A6G Cs

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.

    http://thewatchsource.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=club-maserati.com

    May 17, 2021 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ecu Repair Shop For Sprinter Van

    http://kanazawa-navi.com/navi/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=725&url=http://fleetservicesocrv.com/municipal-vehicle-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. FmrfEncox

    cialis without a prescription https://cialisee.com/ cialis payment with paypal

    May 17, 2021 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. fabrication shop near me

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this information to him. Pretty sure he'll have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

    https://www.redirect.me/?https://www.blog.kotobashi.com/2017/12/05/お正月用!お餅のご予約受付中-艸`/

    May 17, 2021 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Blinds Near Me

    http://www.nexto.pl/rf/pg?pid=576&url=http://uccadia.com/can-2019-nigeria-v-cameroon-3-2/

    May 17, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Storage California

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    /

    May 17, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. travel trailer remodeling companies

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

    /

    May 17, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. BbshMile

    how to get viagra sample http://loxviagra.com/ – alternative to viagra canada pharmacy viagra

    May 17, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Upgrades Orange County

    http://www.ia.omron.com/view/log/redirect/index.cgi?url=https://article.rabia.co.in/114608/just-how-to-accomplish-investigation-and-also-discover-the-most-ideal-rv-parts-san-diego/

    May 17, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. truck box repair

    /

    May 17, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Leave a Reply to Dewey Ecker


 

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.