Medical specialist blamessmoking for myriad cancers

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Smoking causes cancer of the lung and many other organs, requiring costly treatment and often ending in death, a cancer specialist testified Thursday in Minnesota’s tobacco trial.
Smokers also visit the hospital and use more health care services than nonsmokers and people who have quit smoking, said Dr. Jonathan Samet of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota are suing the tobacco industry to recover $1.77 billion spent treating smoking-related illnesses plus punitive damages.
Samet said smoking causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, pancreas, bladder and kidney. Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysm and lung diseases besides cancer, he testified.
The risk of all of those diseases is greatly increased for smokers, and continues to go up with an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked daily, Samet said.
One study cited by Samet showed an increased risk of heart disease of more than 500 percent among men who smoked. One study of female smokers showed a risk increase of more than 900 percent over that of nonsmokers.
The risk is reduced when a smoker quits, and continues to drop over five to 10 years, according to another study he cited.
Treating the diseases is costly, Samet said.
“We’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars,” he said of the costs of treating lung cancer with chemotherapy and radiation. High-risk surgery also can be very expensive, he said.
For patients who must leave home to spend their final days in a hospice, even further costs are added, Samet told the jury.
About 160,000 people die of lung cancer alone every year in the United States, Samet said, about an eightfold to ninefold increase from the 18,000 lung cancer deaths reported in 1950.
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer in the United States is around 12 percent, he said.
Another 80,000 Americans die every year, he said, from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Defendants include Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., British-American Tobacco Co. Ltd., Lorillard Tobacco Co. and The Tobacco Institute Inc. Liggett Group Inc. is a defendant of Blue Cross only.