Smoking Tied to Large Number of Deaths in Asia

Tobacco smoking in Asia and death risk from lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases explored

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) As smoking has begun to decline in some parts of the world, including the US, it is still increasing in other regions. A new study explored tobacco use in Asia.

This new study analyzed data from a number of previous studies to explore the link between tobacco smoking and risk for death and disease in Asia.

The researchers estimated that in 2004, tobacco smoking was tied to over 1.5 million deaths in Asia.

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According to the authors of this study, led by Wei Zheng,  MD, PhD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, "More than 50 percent of men in many Asian countries are now smokers, about twice the prevalence in many Western countries, and more women in some Asian countries are smoking than previously."

However, Dr. Zheng and team noted that much is still to be learned about tobacco-related deaths in Asia, a topic they aimed to explore in this new study.

To do so, the researchers analyzed data from 21 different studies conducted in Asia that included 1,049,929 participants aged 45 or older. These participants came from a number of different locations in Asia, including Bangladesh, India, mainland China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Information on these participants was used to explore the risk for death associated with smoking in 2004.

Dr. Zheng and team estimated that during 2004, smoking-related deaths accounted for 1,575,500 deaths of adults aged 45 or older in these parts of Asia.

The researchers also estimated that in 2004, active tobacco smoking accounted for 15.8 percent of all male deaths and 3.3 percent of all female deaths among people aged 45 or older in all the study locations combined.

Dr. Zheng and team found that smoking was tied to an estimated 1.44 times greater risk of death in men and a 1.48 times greater risk of death in women.

Furthermore, the researchers estimated that among men in Asia, around 11.4 percent of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, 30.5 percent of deaths from cancer and 19.8 percent of deaths from respiratory diseases were tied to tobacco. For women in Asia, around 3.7 percent of cardiovascular disease deaths, 4.6 percent of cancer deaths and 1.7 percent of respiratory disease deaths were tied to tobacco smoking.

Risk for lung cancer and tobacco smoking had a particularly strong relationship, as tobacco smoking was tied to 60.5 percent of male lung cancer deaths and 16.7 percent of female lung cancer deaths.

Dr. Zheng and team noted that their findings showed that a "substantially elevated" risk for death was tied to tobacco smoking in Asia.

"It is likely that smoking-related deaths in Asia will continue to rise over the next few decades if no effective smoking control programs are implemented," the study authors wrote.

It is important to note that this research estimated the number of deaths and diseases tied to tobacco use over a large and diverse area. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.

This study was published online April 22 in PLOS Medicine. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
June 9, 2014
Last Updated:
June 9, 2014