The result: 29 percent of the 167,133 cancer deaths in 2014 are attributable to cigarettes.
Researchers note that smoking can directly cause 12 types of cancer: acutemyeloid leukemia, and cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas, larynx, trachea, lung, and bronchus, cervix or uterus (for women), kidney and renal pelvis, and bladder.
(It’s not the only cause of these cancers, of course—you can still get them even if you don’t smoke.)
Nearly 70 chemicals in tobacco smoke are linked to cancer, says lead author Joannie Lortet-Tieulent, Ph.D.(c), a senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society.
These chemicals can actually alter your DNA, which can spark the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells.
Smoke components also travel through your bloodstream as they make their way to your lungs, which puts other organs at risk of developing cancer, Lortet-Tieulent says.
The good news is that the rate of cigarette smoking in the United States has been steadily declining for several years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, in its last roundup of data in 2014, the CDC found that 16.8 percent of adults now smoke, compared to 42.4 percent in the mid-60s.
But those numbers don’t mean much if you’re still lighting up.
Fortunately, there is a huge incentive to stubbing out the smokes for good sooner rather than later.
Those who quit before age 30 avoid more than 97 percent of the risk of dying compared to those who keep smoking, says Lortet-Tieulent. Stop before 40 and you still avoid 90 percent of the risk.
“But we also know that there is a health benefit in quitting smoking at any age,” she says.
Ready to stop for good? Research shows that quitting cold turkey, rather than weaning yourself off the cigs gradually, is The Best Method to Quit Smoking Forever.