ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Smoking causes about 14 million major medical conditions to adults in the US every year, a new study finds.
That number is up since 2000 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about 12.7 million Americans suffered from smoking-related medical conditions.
The researchers found that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease account for about half of these conditions.
“The disease burden of cigarette smoking in the Untied States remains immense, and updated estimates indicate that COPD may be substantially underreported in health survey data,” the researchers wrote in their study.
The researchers suggest that previous studies from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey underreported because that study relied on self-reporting.
So Brian Rostron, of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, along with a team of researchers, analyzed data from another survey.
In this survey, the participants not only self-reported but also had to take physical exams, including a lung test for COPD.
Rostron and the rest of the researchers were able to estimate the actual number should be 70 percent higher.
The researchers said that the lack of COPD diagnoses might be the result of current clinical guidelines. They say that doctors only test patients who report symptoms but do not screen patients who do not report symptoms.
“Individuals with slowly declining respiratory function or individuals who have become accustomed to some degree of chronic airway obstruction may not report these conditions to physicians and consequently would not be screened for or diagnosed with COPD,” the researchers wrote in their study.
Smoking is considered the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
The findings were published on October 13 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.