Leonard Nimoy has chronic lung disease

What a shame - but he’s using the occasion to warn smokers: http://news-briefs.ew.com/2014/02/06/leonard-nimoy-lung-disease/?hpt=hp_t5

This is why I don’t quit. My understanding is your risk of lung cancer doesn’t decrease if you ever smoked. Obviously, the risk of COPD doesn’t decrease either. I’ve already smoked for years; the damage is done. What’s the point of quitting now? I will still probably die from one of these horrible lung diseases. The takeaway here is: Don’t even start. Sure, it’s great to quit, but it’s even better to have never smoked at all. ETA: I don’t have any family or children or anyone depending on me or who would even miss me all that much. Single, no partner, live 1000 miles away from family. I really don’t think my absence would be noticed by more than a couple people.

When you quit smoking your risk of lung cancer drops significantly, albeit not to the level of a never-smoker. That said, the reduced risk is very gradual, taking over a decade before it levels off.

Just for illustrative purposes, some approximate numbers are:

Long-term smoker: risk of lung cancer around 10 to 15 times that of a never-smoker.

Long-term smoker who quits: risk of lung cancer declines (over many years) to about 2 to 3 times that of a never-smoker.

In contrast, people who quit smoking will have their risk of heart attack drop to that of a never-smoker in under three to five years.

In terms of COPD, quitting smoking slows the inevitable decline in lung function that everyone has as they age. While it is true that the likelihood of getting COPD always remains higher even if someone quits smoking, that likelihood is much less than if they continue to smoke.

Mathematically speaking, everyone has a downward curve in their lung function as they get older. In smokers, the curve is much steeper downward as they age. When they quit smoking, the curve becomes less steep and is essentially the same as a never-smoker. The curves of a never-smoker and an ex-smoker are parallel, but the ex-smoker’s curve has been translated down.

As an aside, big deal if Mr. Spock has COPD. Most long-term smokers have at least some degree of that disorder. The only difference is that he was ‘officially’ diagnosed. And, his life expectancy as a result of having COPD is not all that much reduced.

Graph of (loss of) lung function with age and quitting smoking.

Graph of risk of lung cancer after quitting smoking.

Even if you can’t undo the damage you did in 2013, you can still undo the additional damage you will do in 2014.

Smoking killed my parents. I have COPD myself, although I’ve never smoked. Quit while your ahead.

Thank you all for cited explanations.

I will redouble my efforts to quit. I’m down to about 6-8 a day (from a whole pack a day), and am on Wellbutrin and I have the nicotine gum. I can do it, but I needed more sensible motivation than “but think of your children” because I don’t have any to think of.

Seriously, thank you.

Have you tried an ecig yet? It’s probably not as good as being a nonsmoker (that’s insufficiently researched), but it’s much better than being a smoker. I switched to ecigs over a year ago and I breathe much easier now.

I have no doubt that smoking contributed to my Dad’s passing from esophageal cancer.

But also, Leonard Nimoy is 82 years old. People up and die from every little thing at that age. An 82 year old guy who needs a wheelchair at the airport hasn’t exactly been cut down in his prime.

This. We all die of something, and a long-term-building illness any time past 70 may be a shock, but should not be a surprise.

That’s my understanding of the rising cancer death rate: we’ve cured, ameliorated or controlled all the other old-age killers, so more people are eventually dying of the one widespread disease we haven’t cured. (And probably can’t.)

You know, I was going to respond similarly to a Facebook post from one of my friends, who linked to a video blaming pesticides for the rise in cancer rates and extolling the virtues of organic food. And then I thought, nah…there’s no point.

And also note that Nimoy doesn’t have lung cancer, he just has bad lungs.

Also note that his Vulcan physiology is different to ours

I’m not sure what point you are making, there are things you can do to reduce you risk of cancer no matter how old you are. (I have no comment on the organic food thing, though)

Dammit, PSXer, I’m a Doper, not a doctor!

Sorry to hear this.
He seems to be a very classy guy.
Hopefully, he can still live long and prosper.

Sloan Kettering used to have a predictive tool on their web site that said the risk of a 55 year old man getting lung cancer in the next 10 years was as follows:
Never Smoked: 2%
Smoked a pack a day for 35 years: 3%
They’ve changed the tool so now it only shows how useful screening is (or isn’t).

UTexas MD Anderson Center has a tool, for the same 55 year old male pack a day smoker, the results are:
Given your set of risk factors

current smoker
smoking 20 cigarettes per day for 35 years

your risk of lung cancer is 1.87 higher compared to a man of similar age without any risk factors. This risk is considered Low Risk.

Essentially her (FB friend) point was, pesticides are responsible for the increase in cancer rates, and that switching to organic food will solve this problem.

My response was going to be, “no, increased cancer rates are a result of people living longer.”

Of course there are specific things within our control: growing old isn’t one of them.

Yes, and I found them profoundly unsatisfying. I don’t know what it is about them, but it’s just not the same and doesn’t seem to feed the addiction demon in the same way. I’d “smoke” an ecig and still want to go smoke a cigarette. I think I’d rather just quit than adopt the cig equivalent of methadone.