Tobacco and Cancer Tobacco smoke is the single most avoidable cause of cancer. Tobacco is related to many types of cancer, including lung cancer, head and neck cancers, mouth cancer, urinary & bladder cancers, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and some types of leukaemia. In Australia, tobacco smoking causes 90% of lung cancers in men and 65% in women. Tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 chemical agents, including many substances that are poisonous and toxic to the human body, such as carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, and lead, and over 60 known carcinogens. (For more information about what’s in a cigarette, see our Information Sheet ‘All About Smoking’) Smoking Related Cancers Quitting begins to reverse some of the health effects of smoking, including the risk of getting lung A recent (2002) publication from the International cancer. Ex-smokers’ lung cancer risk continues to 1 decline as the years go by, but as many as half of Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) added 4 additional cancer sites to the already very long list all lung cancer is diagnosed in ex-smokers. of cancers caused by smoking. A scientific working group of 29 experts from 12 countries reviewed all Not only cigarettes significant published evidence related to tobacco smoking and cancer, both active and involuntary. Apart from cigarette smoking, other widely used These additional cancers include some of the most forms of tobacco smoking, such as cigars, pipes common kinds of cancer around the world, including and bidis (common in South Asia and growing in cancers of the stomach, liver, uterine cervix, and popularity in the United States), also increase kidney (renal cell carcinoma) and myeloid cancer risks for cancer of the lung, cancer of the leukaemia. In addition, it noted the cancer risks of head and neck, and other cancers. tobacco smoking are greatly enhanced for some cancer sites when combined with exposure to other Smokeless tobacco is also carcinogenic to known carcinogens. humans. A review of scientific evidence by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Research continues into the relationship (if any) concluded that smokeless tobacco causes both oral between tobacco smoke and breast cancer, 3 childhood cancer and melanoma. and pancreatic cancer. The risk of developing smoking-related cancers, as Many types of smokeless tobacco are marketed for well as non-cancerous diseases, is related to both oral or nasal use as an alternative to smoking. In how long and how much a person has smoked – or 1986, the Surgeon General concluded that the use their total lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke. This of smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for includes the number of cigarettes a person smokes smoking cigarettes. each day, the intensity of smoking, the age at which smoking began, the number of years a Cancer risk in non-smokers person has smoked, and a smoker’s second-hand 1 smoke exposure. Non-smokers are exposed to the same carcinogens as active smokers. Even the typical levels of passive exposure have been shown to cause lung cancer among never smokers. Second-hand tobacco smoke 1 IS carcinogenic to humans. Incidence and Mortality In 2001, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) series Cancer in Australia, cigarette smoking is estimated to have directly caused 10,592 new cases of cancer (54.6 new cases per 100,000 population) and 7,820 2 deaths (40.3 per 100,000 population). In South Australia in 2001, cigarette smoking is estimated to have directly caused 870 new cases of cancer and 658 cancer deaths. References 1. WHO, IARC (2002). Tobacco Smoke and Involuntary Smoking. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. Lyon: IARC Monographs, 2002. http://monographs.iarc.fr/htdocs/indexes/vol83index. html 2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries (AACR) 2004. Cancer in Australia 2001. AIHW cat. no. CAN 23. Canberra: AIHW (Cancer Series no. 28). http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/ 10083 3. IARC (2004) Iarc Monographs Programme Finds Smokeless Tobacco Is Carcinogenic To Humans. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Press Release No.154. http://www.iarc.fr/ENG/Press_Releases/archives/pr15 4a.html 4. National Health and Medical Research Council. The health effects of passive smoking: a scientific information paper. Canberra:AGPS, 1997. Useful Sites American Cancer Society www.cancer.org US National Cancer Institute site www.cancer.gov/cancer_information/cancer_type/ The Cancer Council South Australia www.cancersa.org.au Other Information Sheets on this site Smoking & lung disease (for information on smoking & lung cancer) http://cancersa.org.au/i- cms_file?page=368/Smoking_lung_disease.pdf JANUARY 2006 2
"Tobacco and Cancer"