Cigarettes Dont Cause cancer
Cause Lung Cancer(According to WHO/CDC Data)*
By: James P. Siepmann, MD
Yes, it is true, smoking does not cause lung cancer. It is only one of many risk factors for lung cancer. I initially was going to write an article on how the professional literature and publications misuse the language by saying "smoking causes lung cancer"1, 2, but the more that I looked into how biased the literature, professional organizations, and the media are, I modified this article to one on trying to put the relationship between smoking and cancer into perspective. (No, I did not get paid off by the tobacco companies, or anything else like that.)
When the tobacco executives testified to Congress that they did not believe that smoking caused cancer, their answers were probably truthful and I agree with that statement. Now, if they were asked if smoking increases the risk of getting lung cancer, then their answer based upon current evidence should have be "yes." But even so, the risk of a smoker getting lung cancer is much less than anyone would suspect. Based upon what the media and anti-tobacco organizations say, one would think that if you smoke, you get lung cancer (a 100% correlation) or at least expect a 50+% occurrence before someone uses the word "cause."
Would you believe that the real number is < 10% (see Appendix A)? Yes, a US white male (USWM) cigarette smoker has an 8% lifetime chance of dying from lung cancer but the USWM nonsmoker also has a 1% chance of dying from lung cancer (see Appendix A). In fact, the data used is biased in the way that it was collected and the actual risk for a smoker is probably less. I personally would not smoke cigarettes and take that risk, nor recommend cigarette smoking to others, but the numbers were less than I had been led to believe. I only did the data on white males because they account for the largest number of lung cancers in the US, but a similar analysis can be done for other groups using the CDC data.
You don't see this type of information being reported, and we hear things like, "if you smoke you will die", but when we actually look at the data, lung cancer accounts for only 2% of the annual deaths worldwide and only 3% in the US.**
When we look at the data over a longer period, such as 50 years as we did here, the lifetime relative risk is only 8 (see Appendix A). That means that even using the biased data that is out there, a USWM smoker has only an 8x more risk of dying from lung cancer than a nonsmoker. It surprised me too because I had always heard numbers like 20-40 times more risk. Statistics that are understandable and make sense to the general public, what a concept!
The process of developing cancer is complex and multifactorial. It involves genetics, the immune system, cellular irritation, DNA alteration, dose and duration of exposure, and much more. Some of the known risk factors include genetics4, 5, 6, asbestos exposure7, sex8, HIV status9, vitamin deficiency10, diet, but none of these risk factors are directly and independently responsible for "causing" lung cancer!
Look in any dictionary and you will find something like, "anything producing an effect or result."18 At what level of occurrence would you feel comfortable saying that X "causes" Y? For myself and most scientists, we would require Y to occur at least 50% of the time. Yet the media would have you believe that X causes Y when it actually occurs less than 10% of the time.
As ludicrous as that is, the medical and lay press is littered with such pabulum and gobbledygook. Even as web literate physician, it took me over 50 hours of internet time to find enough raw data to write this article. I went through thousands of abstracts and numerous articles, only to find two articles that even questioned the degree of correlation between smoking and lung cancer (British lung cancer rates do not correlating to smoking rates)19, 20 and another two articles which questioned the link between second hand smoke (passive smoking) and lung cancer.21, 22 Everywhere I looked, the information was hidden in terms like "odds ratio, " "relative risk, " or "annualized mortality rate." Most doctors probably could not accurately define and interpret them all these terms accurately...