Strokes from smoking

They’ve been playing all these “I had a stroke/heart attack/amputation needed” etc and say it’s from smoking. How do they know that it’s the smoking that caused it and not some other cause? Or is the smoking blamed just because they are or were a smoker?

My mother in law had a severe stroke when she was 40. The blame has (and even was at the time, almost 30 years ago) at the door of her chain smoking. I’m no doctor but have been told there was clear evidence of clogged arteries to the brain caused by tar.

She’s still alive, but at the relatively young age of 70 is entirely bedridden, incontinent, deaf, living in a care home and still chain smoking.

I don’t know who “they” are, and certainly can’t say in a specific case if smoking caused the maladies in question but if you want cites linking smoking with strokes and heart/circulatory disease, here’s one:

and another:

Both are pretty reliable sources. There are a ton more.

I’m surprised that anyone is surprised about the damage to a person’s health that smoking can cause. It’s not a very well kept secret.

My stepson, who is 28 years old, has started to take up smoking because where we now live smoking is much more prevalent then where we used to live. He knows the dangers involved… he just doesn’t care. Ah, to be 28 again and to be stupid/invincible.

I didn’t say that I didn’t know that there is increased risk, but was asking how you can tell that any particular stroke/heart attack etc is directly from smoking.

ok, that makes sense. If the tar buildup in the arteries can be seen, then that would seem to be clear evidence. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Heh. Realized I missed a word in the OP…they’ve been playing all these commercials (or PSA’s I suppose) and are produced by the CDC.

You can’t.

You also are not going to see tar buildup in someone’s cerebral arteries.

Smoking is associated with marked increase of risk of numerous diseases, but no individual case can be said with certainty to be smoking-related.

I just diagnosed a lung carcinoma with widespread metastases in a man in his mid-40s, who has a marked smoking history. I see new lung cancers all the time in smokers. Can’t say their cancers are due to smoking.

Maybe they just liked bacon too much. :dubious:

Ok, thank you. So it’s primarily that as a group, smokers have an elevated risk but you can’t be certain that smoking caused any particular health issue in a particular person. That’s what I was wondering about. Thank you for answering the question I actually asked.

Yes, you have it here.

While it is correct to say that smoking causes strokes and cancers, etc (based on tons of good statistical evidence), it is not possible to attribute any individual event to smoking (except maybe lighting the couch on fire).

Still, we are practical people living living in a practical world, so it is often reasonable to say that smoking “caused” grandma’s stroke (in much the same way we say that speeding “causes” motor vehicle accidents, even though we all know that simply driving fast doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have a collision). (To extend that analogy, we all know of careful drivers who become involved in accidents, just as there exist non-smokers with lung cancer, strokes, etc.)

Understood and I agree with all of that. I know the CDC is trying to make a point with those commercials, but it almost feels like…I don’t know…false advertising to say that smoking cause those particular peoples problems. Or in the case of at least one, they specifically say that second-hand smoke caused his death. It may be a reasonable assumption, but it’s said with 100% certainty in the ads.

No particular case of cancer, heart disease, or stroke can be attributed to smoking. But some are more suggestive than others. For decades the tobacco companies argued, in effect, that correlation is not causation. True enough, but it is surely suggestive.

Some kinds of lung cancer are ten times as likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers. So one can infer that any instance of that are highly likely caused by smoking. Here is one case where the inference, while not as overwhelming is still highly suggestive. When my mother brought my father home to meet her mother, my grandmother said that he was not a healthy man. She was judging mainly by a sallow complexion, particularly pale lips. He had a heart attack at age 41, failed to stop smoking and died of heart failure at age 63. I had the same sallow complexion and I had a heart attack at age 28. But I have never smoked since and my wife was astonished at how my complexion changed. And my lips turned red. Forty nine years later, my complexion is still good and my health is satisfactory, considering my age. I wonder if both my father and I have an unusual sensitivity to carbon monoxide, or maybe a problem clearing it. But I am convinced that my father’s and my heart attacks and my father’s death are due to smoking. But of course, that cannot be proven.