Smoking Linked to Rare Throat & Stomach Cancers

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Add two new cancers to the list of diseases that smoking can cause. Researchers have found that smoking can cause a specific type of throat and stomach cancer.

According to a report from Reuters Health, researchers in Italy have combined the results of 33 past studies, and they found that smokers were more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop cancer in their esophagus or in a part of the stomach called the gastric cardia.

The two cancers, known as adenocarcinomas, are relatively uncommon in Western countries -- rates are much higher in less developed countries. But the cancers have been showing up more and more in the U.S. and Europe over the past few decades, possibly related to growing rates of obesity.

While smoking has long been considered a risk factor for the two cancers, the new study offers a "better quantification" of the risks, said senior researcher Dr. Eva Negri, of the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan.

One scary conclusion -- people who quit smoking still have an increased risk of developing these cancers, even if they quit as many as three decades ago.

"Stopping smoking is highly beneficial at any age, but it appears that for these cancers the risk decreases only slowly," Negri told Reuters Health in an email.

The study is published in the journal Epidemiology.

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