30% of Cancer Deaths Linked to Smoking; Over-the-Counter Birth Control; and HIV and Premature Aging

Kaitlin Edwards

August 30, 2022

Nearly 30% of US Cancer Deaths Linked to Smoking

Almost 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States — about 123,000 deaths — were linked to cigarette smoking, new research shows.

Costly deaths: Smoking-related deaths are responsible for more than 2 million person-years of lost life and nearly $21 billion in annual lost earnings.

Types of cancers: The researchers found lung cancer to be the largest contributor to smoking-related cancer deaths, followed by esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer.

Tobacco nation: Smoking-related deaths were highest in the 13 "tobacco nation" states that have weaker tobacco control policies and higher rates of cigarette smoking.

Healthcare providers should "screen patients for tobacco use, document tobacco use status, advise people who smoke to quit, and assist in attempts to quit," said lead researcher Farhad Islami, MD.

Clinicians React to Over-the-Counter Birth Control Possibility

Physicians may play less of a role in prescribing birth control, thanks to pharmaceutical company HRA Pharma seeking FDA approval to sell progestin-based birth control pills without prescriptions in retail pharmacies.

Progestin-only birth control pills have few potential risks for women with specific health concerns like heart conditions compared with estrogen-containing birth controls.

Game changer: "Accessing contraception over the counter could be a game changer for people who experience common barriers to accessing clinics," said Melissa Kottke, MD, associate professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University.

Broader support: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have all voiced support for making birth control pills available without a prescription.

Other concerns: Physicians have also voiced concerns regarding access and affordability. They also say the additional birth control option should not replace doctor-patient interactions about contraception.

Do People Living With HIV Age Prematurely?

People living with HIV appear to develop diseases earlier than those living without HIV, according to a new study.

On average, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and hypertension occurred about 2 years earlier in people living with HIV. In addition, from age 40 years on, chronic kidney disease burden increased more quickly.

Important drivers: "Premature aging identified by CVD and hypertension diagnoses implies that either underlying mechanisms of HIV infection and/or exposure to ART [antiretroviral therapy] are important drivers," said the study authors.

Earlier screening: "We may need to consider screening people living with HIV for cardiovascular disease and hypertension at younger ages than current guidelines, which are generally geared toward people without HIV," said Kara S. McGee, PA-C, DMS, MSPH, physician assistant specializing in infectious diseases at Duke Health.

Kaitlin Edwards is a staff medical editor based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @kaitmedwards. For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


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