A new study estimates that tobacco smoking has been linked to approximately 2 million deaths among adult men and women in Asia in recent years and predicts a rising death toll. The study, published in PLOS Medicine, was led by Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, professor of Medicine and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, and John Potter, MD, PhD, a member and scientific advisor of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Roughly 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia where approximately half of men are tobacco smokers. The study’s authors, representing more than 3 dozen medical centers, government health agencies and institutes in the US, Asia and Europe, credit this rise in smoking among Asians to aggressive product marketing by tobacco companies and a lack of education about health issues related to tobacco.

Among men who had ever smoked, there was an elevated risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer or respiratory diseases in all of the geographic regions in 2004. The risk of death due to any disease, however, varied considerably across populations, with the stronger association generally found in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan compared to that observed in mainland China and India.