Pipe smoking is on the rise among young people. Surprisingly, there has never been a big study of the association between cancer and smoking a pipe only. So, some American Cancer Society researchers set out to fill that gap.
What they wanted to know: What are the risks of exclusive pipe smoking?
What they did: The authors used the Cancer Prevention Study II, an American Cancer Society study of about 1.2 million U.S. adults. Volunteers for the American Cancer Society recruited friends and neighbors for the study in 1982. The subjects filled out a questionnaire in 1982 that included questions about their smoking habits; since then, the American Cancer Society has kept track of death certificates for all the people. For this study, the researchers used the data on the 15,263 men who used only pipes and the 123,044 men who never used any tobacco products in 1982. Whoever designed the original survey must have assumed women didn't smoke pipes, because they weren't even asked the pipe-smoking question. The researchers looked at deaths from six cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
What they found: Pipe smokers had higher death rates than nonsmokers, including higher death rates from lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
What it means to you: This makes pipe smoking still a bit safer than smoking cigarettes but about as harmful as cigars.
Caveats: The people in this study were more likely to be white, middle class, and college-educated than the U.S. population as a whole. The pipe-smoking question was asked once, in 1982, so the subjects could have changed their habits between 1982 and death.
Find out more: Facts about lung cancer from the American Lung Association: http://www.lungusa.org/
Read the article: Henley, S.J., M.J. Thun, A. Chao, and E.;E. Calle. "Association Between Exclusive Pipe Smoking and Mortality from Cancer and Other Diseases." Journal of the National Cancer Institute. June 2, 2004, Vol. 96, No. 11, pp. 853861.