Monday, December 31, 2007

Smoking bans help fight against lung cancer

Here is an article that the Herald-Times ran today. I just wanted to share it with everyone:


Smoking bans help fight against lung cancer

Resolution: Quit breathing secondhand smoke
By Dann Denny 331-4350 |
December 31, 2007

If you’re like most people, your 2008 New Year’s resolution might have something to do with cutting out cheesecake, pedaling the StairMaster, or cleaning up your language on the golf course.

But if you want to live longer, you may wish to make a bit of an unconventional vow — spending less time breathing other people’s cigarette smoke.

According to the American Cancer Society’s 2007 Cancer Facts and Figures, about 3,000 nonsmoking adults in the U.S. — including about 70 in Indiana — die of lung cancer each year as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.

A 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke — a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled by smokers — increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.

“The scientific evidence indicates there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” the surgeon general’s report says. “The evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and lung cancer among lifetime nonsmokers.”

Shirley Lindsey-Sears, director of Bloomington Hospital’s tobacco cessation clinic, said secondhand smoke contains 43 chemicals that cause cancer and is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. — claiming the lives of 53,000 nonsmokers each year.

She urges adults to choose smoke-free restaurants and to not allow themselves or their children to ride in cars filled with other people’s cigarette smoke or spend significant time in smokers’ homes.

Lindsey-Sears said spending an hour in a closed car with someone who’s smoking is the equivalent of smoking three cigarettes.

“Spending eight hours in an office that allows smoking is the equivalent of smoking six cigarettes,” she said.

“Spending 24 hours in a pack-a-day smoker’s home is the equivalent of smoking three cigarettes.”

No-smoking ordinances help

If you live in Bloomington, where there is a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and all public places — and where last Tuesday the Indiana University campus went smoke-free — avoiding secondhand smoke is certainly made easier.

The data show that no-smoking ordinances are likely to reduce the incidence of lung cancer, as well as the number of heart attacks, according to the American Cancer Society.

A recently released Indiana University study found that heart attacks among nonsmokers decreased dramatically in Monroe County following the county’s ban on smoking in public places.

The same case can be made for such bans reducing the incidence of lung cancer, said Jen Tucci, state spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society.

Smoke-free laws

Patricia Ells, the American Cancer Society’s Indiana government relations manager, said ordinances banning smoking are playing a significant role in declining U.S. lung cancer rates among men and a leveling-off of lung cancer rates among women.

“The No. 1 cause for the decline in lung cancer incidence is fewer people smoking, but another reason is that fewer people are being exposed to secondhand smoke,” she said. “Smoke-free ordinances result in both fewer people smoking and fewer people breathing secondhand smoke.”

Smoke-free ordinances in several cities and states throughout the U.S. have dramatically decreased people’s exposure to secondhand smoke, Tucci said.

She said a group of 53 California bartenders examined before and after the state’s smoke-free bar and tavern law went into effect were found to have a 5 to 7 percent improvement in overall lung function just one month after the law was implemented.

Tucci also cited a study showing that 46 percent of New York City residents surveyed reported less exposure to secondhand smoke after passage of the city’s smoke-free law, resulting in 157,000 fewer New Yorkers being exposed to secondhand smoke — and that the city’s smoke-free ordinance prompted an estimated 28,000 smokers to quit using tobacco.

Lung cancer deadliest

Ells points out that lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers, claiming more than 160,000 lives in the U.S. each year — or about 29 percent of all cancer deaths.

Dr. Gregory Kalemkerian, co-director of thoracic oncology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a news release that lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer, and more men than prostate cancer.

He added that lung cancer claims more lives each year than the next four leading cancer killers — of the breast, prostate, colon and pancreas — combined.

“The biggest problem is that most people with lung cancer are diagnosed late, because early stage symptoms are common to smokers,” he said. “Surgery is the most curable treatment for almost any cancer, but few people with lung cancer come in early enough for us to do this.”

Kalemkerian said 75 percent of cancer patients seek treatment only after experiencing symptoms that are associated with the spread of the disease, such as chest pain, weakness in a limb or bone pain.

He said lung cancer is also difficult to treat because smokers have been heavily exposed to carcinogens, the substances that cause mutations in cells and lead to the development of cancer.

“Lung cancers, because of the exceptional amount of carcinogen exposure, have multiple mutations that make treating and killing the mutated cancerous cells especially hard,” he said.


Help for smokers

Free smoking cessation classes are offered by Bloomington Hospital at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. Class members receive free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges for up to four weeks. One-on-one sessions by appointment with a cessation expert are also available. Call 353-5811 for more information.

Lung cancer facts

About 213,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, and more than 160,000 die from it.

The first symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue and coughing up blood.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. About 90 percent of those with the disease are or were smokers. A two-pack-a-day habit for 30 years leads to a 30- to 40-fold increase in risk versus a nonsmoker.

There is little advocacy for lung cancer survivors, mainly because of the high mortality rate and the feeling that victims caused their own disease by smoking.

Exposure to radon, asbestos and hydrocarbons raise one’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Testing for lung cancer is difficult. There is no effective screening test that has reduced mortality rates, but researchers are working on developing a test that they hope will catch the cancer earlier.

Worldwide, 1.2 million people die each year from lung cancer. Sharp increases are being seen in developing countries where tobacco products are becoming increasingly available.


1 comment:

Tammi said...

Here is a response I left on the H-T online:

Thank you H-T for this article, although November would have been a more appropriate time to run it, as November is the Lung Cancer Awareness month. I am happy however to see something ran, as apposed to nothing at all. Lung Cancer is something that could be dramatically decreased if people were more educated about the affects of smoking.

Lung Cancer is no laughing matter and the number one cause is smoking and or second-hand smoke. The smoking ban in Monroe County is a great effort to prevent others from suffering from the ill-effects of second-hand smoke of those who have no respect for their fellow human beings.

I was very much against this ordinance when they applied it and I DO NOT SMOKE. To me it seemed very preposterous and much like the government getting involved in people's personal business. That was until my mother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in August of this year. Now I get to see first hand what smoking causes and it's affects everyday. The suffering, the ill-affects of chemotherapy, the emotional distress of the cancer patient as well as the family. I can't imagine inflicting this on some innocent stranger by smoking in the place of business where they work, yet prior to the ordinance, this happened everyday.

Yes, my mother smoked for 40 years, but I don't really blame her. Mom was a victim of the cigarette industries who unscrupulously put additives in the cigarettes to make them very addictive. Ironically she had quit smoking in 2000. This normally would dramatically decrease a persons risk for lung cancer, however after 30 years of smoking, the damage had already been done to her.

As her child, I was exposed to second hand smoke from her and my step-father for almost 25 years. Most of this was in the 70's & 80's when little was done or said about this disease. Many times I was that child in the back seat of a car filled with smoke and the windows rolled up. The walls in the house were yellowed from the smoking. I now suffer from Chronic Bronchitis and worry every day when I will be diagnosed with Lung Cancer, though I have never personally smoked ANYTHING a day in my life.

Yes, in retrospect I came to appreciate the ban. It is nice to be able to walk into a restaurant or store and not follow in someones smoke. Those who do not smoke, who work in these places of businesses are now able work and breathe fresh air and do not have the risk of lung cancer nagging at them with every breathe they take. My 9 year old son does not need to be as worried about getting lung cancer himself, however Lung Cancer is robbing him of time with his grandmother. Odds are she won't make it to see him graduate from High School and I'll lose my best friend.

It's unfortunate that it took such a personal tragedy for me to come to appreciate such a law. Personally I don't care if you smoke. Please just don't expose me, my son, my family or countless others who don't want the risk of lung cancer thrust upon them involuntarily. It's called respect. Something this society is lacking severely. Respect for your fellow persons. I respect your right to smoke, but you should respect others right not to breathe your second hand smoke. This ordinance was created to protect those whom smokers lack any respect for. If your rights were really being taken away, you would not be able to smoke at all. Thanks to Monroe County, many other counties are following suit.

I know I won't convince those stubborn/closed minded people who like to argue everything, so go to There they can provide you with all the information concerning lung cancer you do or do not want to know. While your there, go check out the LCA survivors community too. There you will read countless of others tragic stories of how lung cancer has affected their lives. You see Lung Cancer doesn't affect the person with affects every single person in their life! You can also find a place called the faces of cancer. Go check it out. You might just see someone you know. My mother's face is on there. Don't see any pictures you recognize? Look around you.....odds are there is someone around you suffering, they just don't know it yet.

Thank you for letting me go on my rant. This issue is very personal to me. I would appreciate your respect not to throw stabs towards my mother or me for my views. I just hope to enlighten someone. You need not agree with me, and that is fine. It is often so disheartening to read the comments some people write on here simply to be mean.

Once again, thank you Herald-Times. I hope that you will continue to shed light on this subject.


Tammi L. Duzan

Songs for Mom