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Cigarette smoking and exposure to asbestos are both major contributors to cancer. Lung cancer, throat cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, colon cancer – all have been linked by medical studies to smoking cigarettes and to asbestos exposure. For some cancers, particularly lung cancer, the risk of getting the cancer increases exponentially when smoking and asbestos exposure are combined. This is often called a “synergistic effect.” A recent study put it this way:

“It is accepted that tobacco (especially cigarette) smoke and asbestos functionally interact in the causation of lung cancer . . .  It is our opinion that the effect is synergistic, i.e., the combined effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects.” 

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 258; Link.

Simply put, asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking together cause more cases of lung cancer than either of them alone. If you were exposed to asbestos in the past, particularly thorough work on the railroad or other industrial jobs, there may be nothing you can do about that exposure now. Once asbestos fibers enter the lungs they can stay there and do damage for a very long time.  Link.

However, there may be something you can so about the effects of cigarette smoking on your lungs and on your chances of getting lung cancer. A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has reiterated that quitting smoking can greatly decrease your chances of getting smoking-related diseases, particularly lung cancer. This is true despite any differences between men and women or between any ethnic or racial groups. The study found:

“In this prospective cohort study, smoking was associated with substantially greater mortality among female and male current smokers than among never smokers in all racial and ethnic groups considered, but quitting smoking was associated with substantially reversed risks for all groups. Quitting smoking before age 45 years was associated with reductions of approximately 90% of the excess mortality associated with continued smoking, and quitting at ages 45 to 64 years was associated with reductions of approximately 66% of this excess risk.”

JAMA Netw Open.2022;5(10): link.

Less excess mortality means less chances of death from cancer when you quit smoking. If you were exposed to asbestos and you smoke cigarettes, it is more important than ever to quit. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any kind of cancer, call us today.