The largest ever study of smoking in the Asia Pacific Region, and oneof the largest smoking studies ever conducted anywhere in the world,has dispelled a long-held myth that smokers in Asian populations areless susceptible than Western populations to the risks of smoking, suchas coronary heart disease and stroke.
A paper from the George Institute for International Health on theoutcomes of the study, due to be published shortly in the InternationalJournal of Epidemiology, notes that the belief amongst Asian countriesthat smoking is less harmful to them than to Caucasian populations maycontribute to the high prevalence of smoking in Asian countries, thelow quitting rates amongst Asian male smokers, and the spread ofsmoking among Asian women.
Prof. Mark Woodward, Director of the Epidemiology andBiostatistics at the George Institute, who lead the study, points outthat "the study, which involved data analysis of almost 500,000 Asiansand 100,000 Australasians, shows that smoking poses the same risks toAsian men (and an even greater risk to Asian women) as compared toWestern populations. The study also makes clear that there are realbenefits to be gained, in terms of huge numbers of lives to be saved,by effectively implementing campaigns in Asia to quit smoking."
"This is particularly so amongst women, where use of tobaccois still spreading worldwide and for whom smoking has the greatestdetrimental impact. Therefore, any anti tobacco campaigns in Asiashould include messages specifically targeted at women," said Prof.Woodward
Importantly, the study also showed that smoking is anindependent risk factor for haemorrhagic stroke, the most common typeof stroke in Asia and more likely than ischaemic stroke to lead todeath within a short period. The large numbers of individuals includedin the study make the overall estimates of the relative effects ofsmoking more precise than those in most previous studies. The resultsalso show that younger people and women have greater relative risks ofcardiovascular disease from smoking than others. It is estimated thatthere will be over 500 million female smokers worldwide within 20years.
Most importantly, the study found that Asians have anincreased proportional cardiovascular risk similar to Westerners fromsmoking cigarettes, and a similar relative reduction in risk fromquitting.
"Unfortunately, there is a belief in some parts of Asia thatsudden quitting can be harmful to health, and the rate of quittingamongst Asian smokers is quite low. This can be partly blamed on a lackof previous evidence on the benefits of quitting, yet this study showsthat the benefits for Asians is the same as for Australasians, in termsof reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Public health efforts tolimit tobacco use are therefore urgently needed in Asia," Prof.Woodward said.###
For more information, visit The George Institute website at www.thegeorgeinstitute.org.
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