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Smoking Related Cancers

What Types of Cancer Are Caused by Smoking?


Updated July 14, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A woman holding a cigarette, outdoors at sunset
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When we think of smoking related cancers, lung cancer is often our first thought. But there are many other smoking related cancers. Overall, smoking is either the direct cause or a contributing factor in 30% of cancers.

Known Smoking Related Cancers:

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer as stated above is the best known smoking related cancer, with smoking responsible for 80 to 90% of lung cancers.

Bladder Cancer

Smoking is the cause for bladder cancer in 50% of men and 30% of women. People who smoke have a 5-fold increased chance of developing bladder cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer

Smoking is thought to be the cause of about 30% of pancreatic cancers, and people who smoke are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Head and Neck Cancers

Smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, tongue, throat, nasal cavities, and sinuses. Tobacco use is considered to be responsible for 85% of head and neck cancers.

Esophageal Cancer

Smoking roughly doubles the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)

Smoking is considered responsible for about 20% of kidney cancers.

Stomach Cancer

The risk of stomach cancer in smokers is twice that of non-smokers.

Colon Cancer

Smoking increases the risk of developing colon cancer and is considered to be responsible for 12% of fatal colon and rectal cancers.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Smoking is correlated with an increased risk of developing acute myelogenous leukemia, and is considered responsible for approximately 25% of cases.

Ovarian Cancer

In 2010, the International Association for Cancer Research added ovarian cancer to the list of cancers caused by smoking. In one study, women who smoked for 25 years or more were twice as likely to develop ovarian cancer as women who had never smoked.

Cancers in Which Smoking Can Be Additive or Accelerate Growth:

Liver Cancer

Cigarette smoking probably increases the risk of primary liver cancer.

Cervical Cancer

While smoking may not cause cervical cancer directly, it appears to accelerate the damage to cervical tissues caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer.

Skin Cancer

Smoking appears to triple the risk of one form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.

Possible Smoking Related Cancers:

Breast Cancer

It hasn’t been shown conclusively that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer, but studies are beginning to suggest a link. Women who smoke as teenagers appear to be more likely to develop pre-menopausal breast cancer, and aggressive forms of breast cancer are more common in current and former smokers.

Prostate Cancer

As with breast cancer, a connection between prostate cancer and smoking hasn’t been proven conclusively. Yet, a 2010 review looking at 24 studies, suggests that smoking increases both the likelihood that a man will develop prostate cancer, and the risk of death in men who have been diagnosed.

Bottom Line:

Smoking is not only linked to lung cancer, but to several other cancers as well. Check out the other health effects of smoking below, and if you still smoke, our About.com Guide to Smoking Cessation has a plan to help you become smoke free in her "Quit Smoking Toolbox" below.


American Cancer Society. What are the Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer? Updated 12/6/10. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomachcancer/detailedguide/stomach-cancer-risk-factors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco-Related Mortality. Updated 09/15/10. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/

Huncharek, M. et al. Smoking as a Risk Factor for Prostate Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of 24 Prospective Cohort Studies. American Journal of Public Health. 2010. 100(4):693-701.

Lipworth, L. et al. The epidemiology of renal cell carcinoma. The Journal of Urology. 2006. 176(6 Pt 1):2353-8.

National Cancer Institute. Fact Sheet. Harms of Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting. Updated 10/28/10. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/cessation

National Cancer Institute. Fact Sheet. Head and Neck Cancer: Questions and Answers. Updated 03/09/05. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/head-and-neck

Zhu, K. et al. Cigarette smoking and primary liver cancer: a population-based case-control study in US men. Cancer Causes and Control. 2007. 18(3):315-321.

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