Smoking may contribute to the deaths of an additional 60,00-120,000 Americans per year says a new study published by The New England Journal of Medicine.
From the years 2000 to 2011 researchers followed nearly a million people, including 89,000 current smokers, and concluded that smoking increased the risk of deaths from diseases not previously associated with the habit, according to the New York Times.
“The smoking epidemic is still ongoing, and there is a need to evaluate how smoking is hurting us as a society, to support clinicians and policy making in public health,” Brian D. Carter, head author of the study told the Times.
The study found that smokers were twice as likely to die from kidney failure, fatal infections and possibly even breast and prostate cancers in addition to the 21 diseases already linked to smoking.
Because it is unethical to direct people to start smoking for a study, the findings are observational and only prove a correlation, not causation. However, Carter has faith in the study because smoking is already known to create risk factors, such as a weakened immune system and artery disease, which contribute to the newly linked ailments.
Finally, the facts that heavier smokers were at a higher risk and that ex-smokers saw the dangers decrease over time added to Carter’s confidence in the study.