Smoking strongly changes your death risk prediction, study finds

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Researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, New Hampshire, have recently explored how mortality estimates due to various causes are affected when considering an individual’s smoking status.

The findings highlight a significant influence of smoking on mortality rates, which is currently overlooked in some existing mortality prediction tools.

In the study titled “Updating the Know Your Chances Website to Include Smoking Status as a Risk Factor for Mortality Estimates,” published in JAMA Network Open, the team focused on assessing the importance of considering smoking status, which is currently absent from the Know Your Chances interactive risk charts on the National Cancer Institute website.

The researchers found that the probability of death due to causes like heart disease, lung cancer, and all causes combined can be dramatically affected by whether a person smokes.

To determine the impact of smoking, the team analyzed data from five previously published U.S. cohorts involving 421,378 men and 532,651 women aged 55 or older.

For smoking-related causes of death, they found that the general population mortality estimates consistently underestimated the risk for smokers while overestimating mortality for non-smokers and former smokers.

For instance, a 60-year-old white male from the general population has an average death risk over ten years due to any cause of 14.5%.

However, if that individual had never smoked, the risk would drop to 9.7%. On the other hand, if the same individual were a smoker, the risk would almost double to 27.3%.

Similar patterns were discovered across age, sex, and race. For women who smoke, lung cancer and coronary heart disease overtook breast cancer as the leading causes of death.

The findings are significant, considering that approximately 11.5% of Americans currently smoke cigarettes.

This small segment of the population can significantly alter the overall statistical mortality risk rate, thereby potentially distorting accurate risk rates for the vast majority of the population who do not smoke.

Such insights could influence how resources for research are allocated and how policymakers fund solutions to major threats to public health.

The study underscores the importance of daily behaviors on longevity, reminding us that individual choices can significantly shorten or prolong life.

The study thus advocates for including smoking status in risk prediction models and charts, which could help provide a more personalized and accurate prediction of mortality risks.

If you care about health, please read studies about why Viagra may be useful in treating lung diseases, and how to reverse high blood pressure in the lungs.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about the cause of mysterious blood clots in long COVID, and results showing zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

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