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Smoking-Related Illnesses in U.S. Total 14 Million

Many Americans suffer from multiple conditions related to cigarettes

TUESDAY, Oct. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately 14 million major medical conditions that plague the lives of U.S. adults, according to a new government report published online Oct. 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study relied on data gathered from two national health surveys from 2006 through 2012 to produce the first estimate of smoking-related illness since 2000, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 8.6 million people had 12.7 million major medical conditions caused by smoking. This time they found that 6.9 million U.S. adults had a combined 10.9 million smoking-related medical conditions. Then they factored in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) estimates and concluded that U.S. adults had a combined 14 million smoking-related illnesses in 2009.

"The implication is that smoking causes more harm than we previously thought, much of it in COPD," Steven Schroeder, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco and head of its Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, told HealthDay. "When you think about how smoking hurts you, people usually think about deaths first, and then those who are sick. There is much more lifetime illness related to smoking."

Schroeder said he was surprised that researchers found even though women have a lower overall rate of smoking than men, they have a higher rate of COPD. An estimated 4.3 million female smokers have COPD, compared with 3.2 million male smokers. "Part of it might be that women may be more susceptible to getting pulmonary disease when they smoke," he said. "It also might be that they live longer, and so have an enhanced lifetime risk."

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