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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1991 Aug 21;83(16):1142-8.

Smoking-attributable cancer mortality in 1991: is lung cancer now the leading cause of death among smokers in the United States?

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  • 1Smoking and Tobacco Control Program, National Institutes of Health, Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Findings from the new American Cancer Society prospective study of 1.2 million men and women indicate that mortality risks among smokers have increased substantially for most of the eight major cancer sites causally associated with cigarette smoking. Lung cancer risk for male smokers doubled, while the risk for females increased more than fourfold. On the basis of the new American Cancer Society relative risks, we project that cigarette smoking alone will contribute to slightly more than 157,000 of the 514,000 total cancer deaths expected to occur in the United States in 1991. Overall, smoking directly contributes to 21.5% of all cancer deaths in women but 45% of all cancer deaths in men. It would also appear that lung cancer has now displaced coronary heart disease as the single leading cause of excess mortality among smokers in the United States.

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