Smoking and Leukemia
Smoking increases the chance of getting leukemia. Leukemia is the cancer of blood-forming tissues with high levels of leukocytes.
Radiation exposure and hereditary susceptibility are factors in some cases. In acute leukemias, anemia, fever, bleeding, and lymph-node swelling develop rapidly. Acute lymphocytic leukemia, found mostly in children, was once over 90% fatal in six months. Drug therapy can now cure more than half these children. Acute myelogenous (granulocytic) leukemia, found mostly in adults, has frequent remissions and recurrences, and few patients survive long. Chronic myelogenous leukemia most often begins in the 40s; weight loss, low fever, weakness, and other symptoms may not develop immediately. Chemotherapy helps the symptoms but may not prolong life. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mostly in the elderly, may be inactive for years. Survival rates are better than in myelogenous leukemia; most deaths are caused by infection or hemorrhage.
According to American Journal of Epidemiology, smokers above the age of 60 are more than twice as likely as non-smokers to develop a specific type of acute myeloid leukemia. The results of this study suggests smoking contributes to some type of leukemia. All types of leukemia are not caused by smoking.
Despite social and medical arguments against tobacco use, the habit has spread worldwide. Nicotine and related alkaloids furnish the psychoactive effects and, along with tar (a residue containing resins and other by-products), the negative health effects. Those effects include lung cancer, oral and throat cancers, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and macular degeneration. Smoking also increases the effects of other risk factors (see asbestosis). Passive smoking (breathing the smoke from others’ cigarettes) increases nonsmokers’ risk of lung cancer and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Self-help and doctor-run programs, along with nicotine patches and gums that provide diminishing doses of nicotine, are among the aids available to help those who wish to quit smoking.