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National Cancer Institute National Cancer Institute

The Nation's Investment in Cancer Research

The Promise of Prevention and Early Diagnosis

Tobacco, Tobacco-Related Cancers and Tobacco Control

Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Cancers

Tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke are the leading preventable causes of illness and death in the United States. Each year, more than 440,000 Americans die of tobacco-related disease, or one in every five deaths. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, cutting tobacco consumption in half by the year 2020 would prevent approximately 180 million tobacco-related deaths around the globe.

NCI works with national and international partners, to understand the etiology of tobacco use, prevent initiation, develop and promote effective smoking cessation interventions, and improve survival of patients with tobacco-related cancers by developing earlier, more accurate diagnostic techniques and targeted therapies. For example, NCI-supported researchers investigate the biologic, genetic, and behavioral foundations of nicotine addiction and tobacco cessation; the causes of tobacco-related cancers; and the genetic and genomic factors affecting patient response to treatment and disease progression. NCI is committed to translating findings from this research into evidence-based prevention, cessation, and treatment interventions. NCI plans to broaden initiatives to examine the complex social, behavioral, environmental, biological, and genetic factors that influence tobacco use and tobacco-related cancers, including international consortia to address tobacco consumption in lower income nations and populations. No Smoking The Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURCs) seek to understand the determinants of tobacco use, nicotine addiction, and relapse, along with methods for preventing tobacco use across cultures.

Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) in lung, head and neck, pancreatic, and bladder cancers conduct translational research related to tobacco and tobacco-related cancers. For example, the University of Texas-M. D. Anderson Head and Neck Cancer SPORE is developing a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that shows antitumor activity in a tobacco carcinogen-based mouse model for both head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

Tobacco Control: Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use to Reduce Disease

The NCI-supported Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) uses information on national trends in cigarette smoking to model how tobacco control interventions, screening modalities, treatments, and public policies may affect lung cancer incidence and mortality. Other studies help to identify tobacco control policies with the greatest potential for preventing tobacco use and second-hand (environmental) smoke exposure in populations disproportionately affected by tobacco use or tobacco company marketing. NCI also supports research to develop and disseminate culturally tailored, gender-specific, and language-appropriate tobacco prevention and cessation methods.

NCI supports research to improve people's ability to stop smoking. For example, researchers are learning how tobacco cessation treatments may be affected by genetic factors. Others studies are identifying gene variants associated with nicotine metabolism and risk of addiction that may provide new targets for cessation treatments. Still other researchers seek to understand and overcome barriers to quitting smoking, such as weight gain. NCI research also assesses the toxic and addictive properties of cigarettes and other tobacco products marketed as causing "reduced harm," and on smokeless tobacco.

NCI initiatives such as the Tobacco Research Network on Disparities (TReND), help to increase smoking cessation in underserved, low income populations. TReND includes the Low Socioeconomic Status (SES) Women and Girls Project to stimulate new research that will inform policies and programs to reduce tobacco use among this population.

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