14 million reasons to quit smoking

New study links 14 million major medical conditions to cigarettes

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States. Now, a new study links 14 million major medical conditions to cigarettes.

"Remarkably, 14 million diseases in the United States are caused because of smoking. Every year people are walking around with a disease that wouldn't be there if they didn't smoke," said Dr. Peter Mazzone, who did not take part in the study but treats lung diseases at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers with the Food and Drug Administration used data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009, National Health Interview Survey data from 2006 through 2012, and data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They estimate that adults in the U.S. had a combined 14 million smoking-attributable conditions in 2009 and that the largest cause of smoking-attributable illness was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

"These are diseases that could kill you, but also bring a lot of suffering," warned Mazzone. "The largest was COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, people don't breathe well because of these diseases and so, they may suffer for years because of their smoking."

Researchers say the disease burden caused by cigarettes is immense and that COPD may beunderreported in the U.S. Mazzone says if you're a smoker you should do yourself a favor and quit.

"If people are already smoking and they stop, there is no doubt the burden of these diseases would decrease. That doesn't necessarily mean they won't still have the disease, but how severe that disease is and how much it affects their quality of life would definitely decrease," he explained.

Complete finding for this study can be found in the journal JAMA: Internal Medicine.

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