SMOKING is still costing lives in South Tyneside.
New figures have revealed that 145 people died in the borough in a year from smoking-related cancers.
The statistics, which have been collected by Cancer Research UK, are being released by anti-smoking group Fresh, on the run-up to World Cancer Day, on February 4.
Studies found that 906 people in the borough were diagnosed with cancer in 2009 – 176 of these were related to tobacco.
While 145 people from South Tyneside died in 2010 from a smoking-related cancer.
Dr Liz Fuller, consultant respiratory physician with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Every year in the North East, thousands of people die or are diagnosed with cancer as a result of smoking. We see people who should be enjoying healthy, happy years but instead have to deal with being diagnosed with a serious disease and its impact on family life.
“There is still a real lack of awareness about the many types of cancer caused by smoking. Nearly everyone knows lung cancer is caused by smoking but very few people realise smoking is linked to 15 different types of cancer.”
She added: “This is hardly surprising when you consider the range of poisons in cigarette smoke, which contains more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals.
“Cigarette smoke enters the bloodstream and travels around the body causing immediate and long-term harm. This increases the risk of cancer in over a dozen parts of the body, as well as a range of other conditions like COPD, stroke and heart disease.” Smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer in the world. It causes more than four in five cases of lung cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers and is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK. However, most of these deaths are preventable, by quitting in time.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “Too many cherished mothers, fathers and grandparents die before their time every year as a result of smoking-related cancers, leaving loved ones behind.
“Often people who have smoked all their lives and get cancer as a result feel anger they didn’t quit sooner, but the cruel fact is that most smokers start as children and are addicted by the time they reach 18. We need to recognise that smoking is an addiction promoted by an industry with no regard for people’s health, only its profits.”