Self-induced cancer

In the book on disease prevention at the cellular (DNA) level, entitled, Let’s Stop “Killing” our Children, I have highlighted tobacco and alcohol as the two major causes of most maladies known to man, including cancer.

Besides those two risk factors, I pointed out that other unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and habits immensely contribute to the development of many illnesses.  The main ones among those are diet (too much food intake) and (too little or no) exercise.

A report in New York published a new study of cancer in the United States, which showed that “nearly half (50 percent) of cancer deaths were caused by smoking, poor diet and other unhealthy behaviors.” That’s even less than what has been reported more than three decades ago. Smoking had slowed down in the U.S. while obesity has dramatically gone up.

“Forty five percent of cancer deaths and 42 percent of diagnosed cancer cases could be attributed to modifiable risks factors,” according to this study. This means the risk factors were not inherited or genetic, basically the result of unhealthy behavior and habits, like sedentary life, lack of exercise, eating a lot of red meat, not eating enough vegetables and fruits, eating processed meats, alcohol abuse, sun exposure, and worst, smoking. Regrettably, most of these deaths were preventable!

In 1981, a British research revealed that more than 2/3 (or more than 66 percent) of cancer deaths were due to those factors. Smoking was the number 1 risk, causing 29 percent of deaths, followed by excess weight at 6.5 percent as a cause of death, and alcohol use at 4 percent.

“Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds was associated with 96 percent of skin cancers in men and 94 percent in women,” according to the new study.

Scary data on smoking

There are 4,000 chemicals (600 of them poisons, 69 cancer-causing) in every stick of cigarette, toxic chemicals like those found in paint stripper, toilet cleaner, rocket fuel, lighter fuel, chemicals in moth balls, the poison used in the gas chamber, and other toxins.

Smoking causes almost 1/3 of all cancer deaths in the world.

Smokeless tobacco — 50 times worse than regular cigarettes.

Passive smoking is responsible for about 6,000 lung cancers among non-smokers and 35,000 deaths from secondhand smoke-related diseases per year.

More than half a million are killed each year in the U.S. alone by smoking-related illnesses; 10 times more than car accidents; 12 times more than AIDS.

And a lot more than all the military casualties in all wars in this century put together.

One person in the U.S. dies of a heart attack every minute (mostly smokers).  One dies of other smoking-related illness every 3 minutes!

Smoking has orphaned billions of children around the globe, greater than all the wars combined has caused.

Smokers die 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers.

The risk of dying from lung cancer among smokers compared to non-smokers: 22 times greater in men and 12 times greater among women.

Since 1950, lung cancer deaths among women have increased 600 percent.

Smokers have three times risk of dying from heart attack.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths.

Smoking kills 250 daily.

At least 250 Filipinos die each day — yes, each day — or about 90,000 a year, from smoking-related illnesses, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic diseases, and cancers, especially lung cancers. In Malaysia about 10,000, and Vietnam at least 40,000, die annually from tobacco-related conditions. Indonesia’s death toll is the worst: 400,000 a year.

The sad fact is that official global tobacco youth survey has revealed that the “smoking prevalence among Filipino youth had jumped and extrapolated to go even higher.”

Obviously, for political correctness and expediency, majority of our legislators in Congress prefer to protect the tobacco industry and allow tobacco to continue to kill our people. What money from the tobacco lobby can do!

Smoking kills. It is that plain and simple. There is no more doubt today that tobacco (cigarette smoking) is the predominant cause of lung cancer, besides other malignancies and cardiovascular diseases that maim, kill men and women and hurt our society, especially our children. In the United States alone, almost half a million die each year from smoking-related illnesses. These are preventable deaths! Demographic studies have shown that smokers are about 10 times more prone to die premature deaths than non-smokers. This unnecessary loss of lives is at an immense direct cost for non-smokers in terms of increased health risks from passive smoking, in higher health insurance premiums and taxes, not to mention personal and family tragedies in all shapes and forms.

As we have alluded to in a previous column, secondhand smoke is even more dangerous. Innocent bystanders are forced to inhale cigarette smoke at their workplaces or in public places, thus increasing their health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency engineers have shown that even the best available ventilation and air-moving equipment were unable to reduce carcinogenic (cancer-causing) air contamination to a safe level for a non-smoker sharing work space with a habitual smoker.

Why governments around the world allow and protect an industry that victimizes and hooks their young, poisons and kills their people, is incomprehensible, however you look at it.

If you think about it, our government and those of other nations are peddling drugs (albeit addictive tobacco is a milder killer substance) in the name of profit, wantonly sacrificing their citizens’ health and future, shortening people’s lives, causing trillions of dollars or more of expenditures for research as to how to fight the habit, how to cure the tobacco-induced illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, etc. This is plain stupidity.

The solution is obvious: Eliminate the cause, the poison! Then, we don’t have to do expensive researches looking for the “antidote” or finding the cure, etc. Eliminating the cause would even reward us these added bonuses:  a smokeless society, a healthier citizenry, a nobler nation, and a less polluted environment, ecologically friendlier to Mother Earth!

Unfortunately, the senseless global smoke-filled “killing field,” protected by governments, like in the Philippines, will continue. We, The People, should be fuming mad!


Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email:

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