American Cancer Society Says 2 = 12 and 5 = 23


The American Cancer Society continues to misrepresent the health risks of pipe and cigar smoking. In a pamphlet entitled "Air Pollution or Smoking: Which Is Greater Risk?," it warns that "cigar smoking and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking." The organization's own research refutes this claim.

In the ACS's CPS-I study, according to a 1998 monograph from the National Cancer Institute, daily cigar smokers had a lung cancer risk ratio of about 2 (i.e., their risk was twice as high as nonsmokers'), vs. more than 12 for cigarette smokers. Is 2 almost as high as 12? The risk ratio for subjects who smoked one to two cigars a day was 0.9—i.e., their risk was indistinguishable from that of nonsmokers.

In the ACS's CPS-II study, the lung cancer risk ratio for current pipe smokers (all male) was about 5. For male cigarette smokers, it was 23. Is 5 almost as high as 23?

Maybe the people writing pamphlets for the American Cancer Society aren't familiar with the organization's research. But clearly their supervisors don't much care whether the information is accurate, as long as they err in a scary direction.

[Thanks to Don Sigal for the tip.]