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Certain agents in tobacco smoke can damage important genes that control the growth of cells, which increases a person’s risk for many types of cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. About 87 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. Smokers are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Smoking also causes cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), and esophagus, and it increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, and stomach. Smoking may also contribute to the development of acute myeloid leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood.
For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking. Risks generally decrease after a person quits completely. Ten years after quitting, the risk of developing lung cancer decreases by as much as half.
Posted in: Smoking