Friday, January 17, 2014

Tobacco use is linked to diseases that might surprise you; smoking rates remain high in rural U.S.

Smoking cigarettes poses even more health risks than previously thought, according to acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris D. Lushniak. In a report issued Friday, he "concluded that cigarette smoking — long known to cause lung cancer and heart disease — also causes diabetes, colorectal and liver cancers, erectile dysfunction and ectopic pregnancy," reports Sabrina Tavernise of The New York Times. (AP photo by Julio Cortez)

"The other health problems the report names are vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune function and cleft palates in children of women who smoke," Tavernise notes. "Smoking has been known to be associated with these illnesses, but the report was the first time the federal government concluded that smoking causes them. The report is not legally binding, but is broadly held as a standard for scientific evidence among researchers and policy makers." To read the full report, click here.

The rate of U.S. smokers among adults 18 and older dropped from 24.7 percent in 1997 to 18 percent in 2012, according to the National Health Interview Survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC lists the median percent of adult smokers in the U.S. in a 2012 report at 21.2 percent. But numbers are much higher in states with large rural populations, led by Kentucky at 29 percent and West Virginia at 28.6 percent. Other states with high numbers are: Arkansas, 27 percent; Oklahoma, 26.1 percent; Mississippi, 26 percent; Louisiana, 25.7 percent; Indiana, 25.6 percent; Ohio, 25.1 percent; Missouri, 25 percent; and Alabama, 24.3 percent. For an interactive map click here.

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