Pipe smoking as dangerous as cigar smoking

An American Cancer Society study finds pipe smoking confers a similar risk of cancer and other disease as cigar smoking. The study, the largest and most precise to date of the risks of pipe smoking, appears in the June 2 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study, which included more than 15 thousand male pipe smokers in the U.S., found compared to non-tobacco users, pipe smokers had five times the risk of lung cancer (RR = 5.00), nearly four times the risk of throat cancer (RR = 3.90), more than twice the risk of esophageal cancer (RR = 2.44), a forty percent higher risk of colon cancer (RR = 1.41), a sixty percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer (RR = 1.61), and thirteen times the risk of cancer of the larynx (RR = 13.1).

The study found pipe smokers were at higher risk of other tobacco-related diseases, as well. They had a thirty percent higher risk of heart disease (RR = 1.30); a 27 percent higher risk of stroke (RR = 1.27); and nearly three times the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (RR = 2.98). The risks from pipe smoking were generally smaller than the risks due to cigarettes, and equal to or larger than the risk posed by cigars.

While pipe smoking has decreased in the United States over the past few decades, dropping from 14.1 percent in 1965 to 2 percent in 1991, the authors of the report say their report is particularly timely thanks to a growing trend among young people: hookahs. “The tobacco industry has repeatedly shown the ability to create new markets by reviving interest in tobacco products that may have appeared to become obsolete,” said Jane Henley, American Cancer Society epidemiologist and author of the report. “Tobacco sellers are encouraged to capitalize on the successful campaign of premium cigars by extending the same concepts to pipes, specifically by marketing premium pipe tobacco and enticing new users with flavored tobacco and novel pipes. For example, in the last few years, hookahs have been marketed as a trendy, fun, and less hazardous alternative to cigarette smoking. The significant risks we found should leave no doubt that all tobacco products cause disease and death.”

Although pipe smoking is somewhat rare, it increased between 1999 and 2002 among middle school students (from 2.4 percent to 3.5 percent) and high school students (from 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent). Pipe smoking is most common among men age 45 and above, in the Midwest, and among some populations, including American Indians (male prevalence = 6.9 percent in 1991). Pipe smoking remains rare among women, with fewer than one in a thousand women reporting pipe smoking in the U.S.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 14 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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