smoking in China

Louis Ferry archangeluriel at
Thu Aug 16 17:53:08 EST 2001

Question for the group - I saw a quick news "blurb" this morning;
apparently, the Chinese are very heavy smokers. 2 of 3 adult males
smokes; with one fifth the world's population, China consumes a third of
the cigarettes produced (worldwide) annually. While premature death
attributable to smoking is high, and increasing, Chinese smokers tend to
die of chronic pulmonary disease (e.g. emphysema) - not lung cancer. The
lung cancer rate is much lower than for Western smokers. (Cardiovascular
disease differences weren't mentioned.)
I realize that this was probably an epidemioogy study that raised as
many questions as it answered, but has anyone seen a more in-depth
report of the study? Given that it takes about as long to develop lung
cancer as emphysema, have the researchers or other biologists hazarded a
guess as to what's going on? Are the Chinese  genetically "better" at
metabolizing smoke-borne carcinogens (e.g. benzo-a-pyrene) or is it
something they're eating? (I guarantee it's not what we think of as
Chinese food - not a lot of General Tso's or ten ingredient fried rice). 

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