Monday October 21, 2019

WHO Warns More Than 40 Percent of Smokers Globally Die from Lung Diseases

The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption

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FILE - An anti-tobacco warning is seen on a road divider on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. VOA

The World Health Organization warns that more than 40 percent of smokers globally die from lung diseases, such as cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and tuberculosis. The warning comes ahead of World No Tobacco Day this Friday, with the theme being, “Don’t let tobacco take your breath away.”

The World Health Organization says that every year, tobacco use kills at least eight million people. The U.N. agency reports 3.3 million users will die from lung-related diseases. This number includes people exposed to second-hand smoke, among them more than 60,000 children under age five who die of lower respiratory infections due to passive smoking.

Vinayak Prasad, the acting director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, says the global economic cost of using tobacco is $1.4 trillion. This is due to health expenditures, loss of productivity from illness and other expenses resulting from smoking-related diseases. He says both lives and money could be saved if people stopped smoking.

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Cigarettes don’t contain just nicotine but a range of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals you wouldn’t want near your body. Pixabay

“What we see also is that if people who are smoking, almost 20 percent of the world is smoking, if they quit, some of the benefits actually come very quickly, especially the lung diseases. Within two weeks, the lung functions actually start to become normal,” he said.

The World Health Organization reports that globally, the prevalence of smoking has gone down from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016. But the WHO, notes that the number of tobacco users worldwide has remained stable at 1.1 billion because of population growth.

Kerstin Schotte, WHO technical officer in the same department as Prasad, notes a steeper decline in the prevalence of smoking in wealthier countries, compared to poorer ones.

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The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption. Pixabay

“And, some low-and-middle income countries even have increasing smoking prevalence rates. This is where the tobacco industry is going at the moment,” she said. “They know a little bit that it is a lost cause in Europe and North America, so they are going into the low-and-middle-income countries, targeting especially women and children there.”

ALSO READ: Over 60% E-cigarette Smokers Want to Quit: Study

The World Health Organization recommends a number of effective, low-cost measures countries can adopt to reduce tobacco consumption.

These include the creation of smoke-free environments, imposing a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. WHO also suggests putting a high tax on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to make them unaffordable for many, especially young people. (VOA)

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Light Smoking also Damages Lungs, Says Study

Lung function in Light smokers declines at a rate much closer to that of Heavy smokers

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Lung function declines naturally with age (starting in one's 20s), and Smoking accelerates the decline. Pixabay

People smoking fewer than five cigarettes a day cause long-term damage to their lungs, according to a new research.

“Many people assume that smoking a few cigarettes a day isn’t so bad, but it turns out that the difference in loss of lung function between someone who smokes five cigarettes a day versus two packs a day is relatively small,” said study lead author Elizabeth Oelsner, Assistant Professor at Columbia University Vagelos College in the US.

For the study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the researchers looked specifically at lung function–the amount of air a person can breathe in and out–in smokers, ex-smokers, and never-smokers.

Lung function declines naturally with age (starting in one’s 20s), and it’s well-known that smoking accelerates the decline.

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Light Smoking can cause about the same amount of lung function damage in one year as a Heavy Smoking might cause in nine months. Pixabay

Because of the large number of people in the study–more than 25,000– researchers could see differences in lung function among light smokers (less than 5 cigarettes per day) and heavy smokers (more than 30 per day) that other studies have been unable to detect.

Their analysis found that lung function in light smokers declines at a rate much closer to that of heavy smokers, as compared to non-smokers.

This means that a light smoker could lose about the same amount of lung function in one year as a heavy smoker might lose in nine months.

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Smoking fewer than five cigarettes a day cause long-term damage to the lungs. Pixabay

The study also tested an assumption, based on a 40-year-old study, that the rate of decline in lung capacity “normalises” within a few years of quitting smoking.

The new study shows that although lung capacity declines at a much lower rate in ex-smokers than current smokers, the rate doesn’t normalise for at least 30 years.

ALSO READ: Novel Sleep App for Apple Watch Spotted

According to the researchers, light smokers may have a greater risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (IANS)