Smoking: A Major Cause Of Cancer Among Chinese Men

A nationwide study has found that smoking causes 23 percent of all cancer incidents in China, urging calls for a widespread smoking cessation movement.

AsianScientist (Sep. 9, 2015) – Smoking now causes nearly a quarter of all cancers in adult males in China, according to a large, nationwide study published in the journal Cancer. Steep increase in the rates of cigarette smoking in teenage males and continued use in adulthood foreshadow even greater tobacco-related cancer risks for the nation.

Tobacco-related deaths have been declining steadily in most developed countries. However, the opposite trend is true for developing nations, especially in China. There is a rapid increase in the proportion of Chinese people consuming cigarettes, particularly among men. Along with it, there was also an increasing trend of lung cancer mortality rates in China.

To get a sense of the current smoking-related cancer risks in China, a research team led jointly by Professor Chen Zhengming of the University of Oxford and Dr. Li Li-ming of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in China, analyzed data from a nationwide prospective study called the China Kadoorie Biobank. This study recruited 210,259 men and 302,632 women aged 30 to 79 years from 10 areas of China from 2004 to 2008. The study recorded approximately 18,000 new cancers during seven years of follow-up.

This study found that 68 percent of men that participated in the study were smokers, and they had a greater risk for developing all types of cancers compared to non-smokers. The risk was the largest for lung cancer at a risk ratio (RR) of 2.51. There was also a similar trend among smoking women in China–of the three percent that smoked; there also was a significant elevation of risk for all types of cancer, particularly lung cancer (RR = 2.28).

There is, however, a hopeful trend in these bleak numbers. Of the 6.7 percent ex-smokers, there is no additional risk of cancer 15 years after quitting the cigarettes. This statistic suggests that quitting the cigarette lowers risk of cancer.

This study represents the most recent efforts to assess the tobacco-related cases of cancer in China. With these sobering figures, the authors warned that should this trend continue, smoking would be the reason for the gap in life expectancies between men and women in China. They also recommended widespread cessation of smoking in China as a strategy to avoid cancer and premature death in the coming decades.

The article can be found at: Chen et al. (2015) Emerging Tobacco-Related Cancer Risks in China: A Nationwide, Prospective Study of 0.5 million Adults.


Source: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Morgan/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Ying Ying completed her PhD in neurobiology at the University of Basel, where she studied the role of bone morphogenetic protein in structural plasticity of neurons.

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