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New Report by Surgeon General Links Smoking to Colon and Liver Cancer

In 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., the Ninth Surgeon General of the United States, released the first health report linking smoking to lung cancer. Over the past 50 years, 31 Surgeon General Reports have been released about the dangers of tobacco use. The latest report by Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. has discovered a causal link between smoking and both colorectal cancer and liver cancer.


The report states: “Circulating carcinogens from tobacco smoke are metabolized in the liver, exposing the liver to many absorbed carcinogens… Therefore, long-term exposure to carcinogens in smoke may lead to cellular damage in the liver and contribute to the development of cancer,” (p. 181). The Surgeon General’s findings also show carcinogens in tobacco smoke reaching the large bowel system and binding to the DNA in the human colonic epithelium, which cause adenocarcinomas (p. 198).

Accordingly, there is now sufficient evidence that shows causal links between tobacco-use and a grand total of 13 of cancer.

Joining the ranks of smoking-related diseases such as coronary heart disease, pneumonia, and stroke, the Surgeon General’s 32nd report also found new causal links between smoking and age-related macular degeneration (loss of vision), tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, erectile dysfunction in men, and ectopic pregnancy in women. Pregnant women who smoke may also cause orofacial clefts in their unborn child.

However, there is good news: Approximately 18 percent of adults smoke nationwide, compared to42 percent in 1965. Due to anti-smoking media campaigns, preventative marketing measures for Big Tobacco, and the advent of tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes, smoking tobacco products is not as prevalent as it was 50 years ago. Although tobacco companies have seen a decline in smoking among adults in recent years, about 33 million Americans still smoke daily, with 9.1 Americans smoking infrequently (i.e. “social smokers”).


The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.