CRC News Round-up: Surgeon General Links Cigarette Smoking and Colorectal Cancer for the First Time

It’s a fact: people who smoke cigarettes are at greater risk of colorectal cancer.

We’ve known that for a long time, but in a new report, the surgeon general acknowledges that fact for the first time.

Studies dating back to the mid-90s establish a clear link between the two, and research on that link has continued and expanded since then.

A 2000 study suggested 12% of colorectal cancer deaths in the U.S. could be attributed to smoking. An Italian research project pegged the increased risk at 18% in 2008. In 2009, researchers found a 30-50% increased risk in heavy smokers even after controlling for 13 other potential risk factors. We wrote last May about a study that suggested the link was even stronger in women, and another study released just days ago reported more of the same.

The list goes on and on. But now, any doubt about the link between smoking and colorectal cancer has surely been eliminated.

In the Surgeon General’s report, which also links smoking to several other diseases, the surgeon general concludes that “evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between smoking and … colorectal cancer” and warns that “clinicians and public health personnel should include both current and former smoking as risk factors for this disease.”

Fifty years after the office of the surgeon general first took on tobacco by concluding lung cancer is caused cigarette smoking in 1964, it has done so again by finally addressing its link to the United States’ second most deadly cancer.


  • Two gene rearrangements present in some instances of lung cancer have also been identified in some instances of colorectal cancer. This means that drugs used to target these rearrangements in people with lung cancer may be applicable to people with colorectal cancer as well. 

  • Another study revealed high fiber diets are key in preventing colon inflammation and cancer. In substitute of a high fiber diet, niacin (vitamin B3), proved to have a similar effect. Beans and lentils are high in fiber, so make sure you’re getting plenty of those by cooking meals like the beans, greens and quinoa soup we featured here last year

  • One of the obstacles to improving screening rates in the U.S. is the fact that Medicare covers screening colonoscopies, but only partially covers diagnostic colonoscopies. 

  • Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente announced that it will use $7 million to build a special data network aimed to improve cancer research efforts. 
  • A “previously known but little studied” drug was able to disrupt tumor cell division and prevent cancer cell growth in a laboratory setting

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Creative Commons image via stevendepolo

Topics: Colon Cancer News and Information

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