Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Health & Medicine

Cancers caused by smoking reach all time high

Jacob Smith
by Jacob Smith | News

9 July 2024

1 comment 1 comment

A stack of cigarettes, one of them smoking


The number of cancer cases caused by smoking in the UK has reached an all-time high of 160 cases every day, new analysis from Cancer Research UK shows. 

The number of cases has increased by 17% since 2003, meaning over 20 additional people a day are being diagnosed with cancer caused by smoking compared to 20 years ago.  

Although smoking rates in the UK are going down, a growing population means there are still around 6.4 million people who still smoke in the UK and around 57,600 diagnoses of cancers caused by smoking each year.  

In Cancer Research UK’s plan for longer, better lives, they called on the next UK Government to act to end cancers caused by smoking.  

The newly elected UK Government must re-introduce the Tobacco and Vapes Bill in the first King’s Speech on 17 July and help create the first smokefree generation.  

“Right now, six people are diagnosed every hour in the UK with cancer that was caused by smoking,” said Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy. 

“Raising the age of sale of tobacco products will be one of the biggest public health interventions in living memory, establishing the UK as a world-leader. It’s vital that this Bill is re-introduced at the King’s Speech, passed and implemented in full so the impact of smoking is consigned to the history books.” 

A uniquely harmful product 

Tobacco is a uniquely harmful product. When used as advised by the manufacturer, it will kill up to two thirds of users.  

Cigarette smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which cause cancer. These chemicals damage the DNA in our cells and make it harder for our cells to repair DNA damage, which can lead to cancer. 

Lung cancer still has the strongest link to smoking, causing around 33,100 cases each year. However, the analysis showed the biggest increases in UK cancer cases caused by smoking are seen in liver, throat and kidney, where they have doubled over the last 20 years. 

This is also the first time Cancer Research UK has included breast cancer as a cancer type caused by smoking in this kind of analysis.  

The scientific research for this link has been growing for years and the charity is now confident in the evidence showing that smoking causes around 2,200 cases of breast cancer every year in the UK. 

This means that tobacco causes 16 different types of cancer. 

The biggest cause of cancer in the UK

One person is admitted to hospital every minute in England because of smoking, and it’s estimated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) that the treatment of smoking-related illness costs the NHS approximately £1.9 billion every year in England alone. 

“Smoking remains the biggest cause of cancer in the UK and is responsible for 16 types of the disease, including some of the most common cancer types, like lung, breast and bowel,” said Karis Betts, cancer epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK. 

“It’s vital that the UK Government continues to sustainably fund smoking cessation services to give those who want to quit the support they need to succeed.  

“Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health, but it’s not always easy, and it can take a few attempts to find the method that works for you. But keep trying and get support from your free local stop smoking service, doctor or pharmacist.” 

A campaigner in a Cancer Research UK t-shirt holding a sign that reads 'End cancers caused by smoking.'

Ending cancers caused by smoking has been a key call of Cancer Research UK’s campaign to ensure that this general election is a turning point for people affected by cancer.

There’s still time to join the Turning Point for Cancer campaign

Join the campaign

    Comments

  • Paul
    9 July 2024

    The new government should follow the lead of the Canadian government and put health warnings on individual cigarette sticks . Also the health warnings on packets themselves need to updated on a regular basis. The wordings should be bold and upper case. To deter young people one of the warnings could be , SMOKING CAUSES BAD BREATH, TOOTH DECAY, GUM DISEASE AND TOOTH LOSS.

Tell us what you think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read our comment policy.

    Comments

  • Paul
    9 July 2024

    The new government should follow the lead of the Canadian government and put health warnings on individual cigarette sticks . Also the health warnings on packets themselves need to updated on a regular basis. The wordings should be bold and upper case. To deter young people one of the warnings could be , SMOKING CAUSES BAD BREATH, TOOTH DECAY, GUM DISEASE AND TOOTH LOSS.

Tell us what you think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read our comment policy.