For those who might be considering a switch to vaping, a new study is now indicating that two-thirds of smokers will eventually die from smoking-related illnesses.  Even light smokers of ten cigarettes per day can double their chances of an earlier death while the risks quadruple for pack-a-day smokers.

According to nearly every federal public health agency on the planet, smoking is the most common cause of at least fourteen different types of cancer.  Meanwhile, combustible tobacco cigarettes contain thousands of needless chemical additives, several of which can even induce long-term damage to the DNA of human cells.  In some cases, scientists believe that this cellular damage can also be passed along to smokers’ children.

Australian research on smoking rates versus terminal cancers

The latest research is conducted by a group of Australian scientists who published their findings in a paper entitled, Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence (BMC Medicine). The researchers began by monitoring some 204,953 smokers under the age of 45 from 2006 to 2009.  Other than perhaps melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, all participants had no prior histories of cancer, heart disease, or thrombosis.

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Through careful monitoring using a combination of questionnaires completed by the participants and patient-authorized medical data collected from hospitals, the researchers calculated various mortality rates up to and including the year 2012. Mortality rates were assigned to various categories of smokers based on a multitude of factors, including daily cigarette consumption, education levels, socio-economic status, regions of residence, alcohol usage rates, marital status, sex, age, and even body weight.  All results were then compared to a control group of never smokers over the same time period.

In general, male and female smokers seemed to have similar mortality rates.  The co-authors of the study estimate that smokers of either sex below the age of 45 tend to lose about ten years of life on average.  The scientists further indicate that for a 45-year-old male smoker, he is about 45% more likely to die by the age of 75 (compared to only 12.2% for non-smokers). In a Sax Institute press release, co-author Emily Banks of the Australian National University stated the following.

“We knew smoking was bad, but we now have direct, independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally… Even with the very low rates of smoking that we have in Australia we found that smokers have around three-fold the risk of premature death of those who have never smoked. We also found smokers will die an estimated 10 years earlier than non-smokers.”

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Unlike in the United States, the Australian government has a national goal of eradicating combustible tobacco products from existence by the year 2025.  And also unlike the United States, its top organization for medical professionals – the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) – endorses vaping a s a smoking cessation aid.  The closest that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will say is that nicotine-based vapes might be a tobacco harm reduction tool, but they also say in the very same breath that “more research is needed.”

In a press release issued earlier this month, the RACGP announced the publication of a revised set of official guidelines for which medical physicians, nurses, mental health counselors, and other healthcare workers should address the issue of vaping with their smoking patients.  One of the more noteworthy recommendations informs medical professionals that vaping as a stop smoking aid is just as effective as conventional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like nicotine patches, gums, and, lozenges.

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