Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Friday, April 08, 2005

More dueling headlines

New aggregation services (I use Excite) just make this too easy:
Former smokers should rest easy
from USA Today and
Jennings' Case Highlights Risk to Ex-Smokers
from Excite

So which is right? Probably both. As the first article puts it:

Research shows that former smokers reduce their risk of developing heart disease and stroke to the risk level of non-smokers within a few years after quitting. It takes about 10 years to reduce the risk for lung cancer and other cancers, but risk never drops to the level of someone who has never smoked, says physician Michael Thun, head of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society.

Recall that the devlopment of cancer requires multiple genetic changes in a single cell that leads it to proliferate uncontrollably. These build up over time, abetted by smoking, and never really go away. On the other hand, it is never to soon (or to late) to quit:
A landmark study published last year in the British Medical Journal found that cigarette smokers die an average of 10 years sooner than nonsmokers. At least half, and possibly up to two-thirds, of people who smoke from youth on are eventually killed by their habit, a quarter of them in middle age, the study reported.


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