Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld speaking at Community Arts Auditorium, May 28, 1969 at a benefit for Open City. Photo: Alan Gotkin.

The Real Killer Weed

One in every 40 deaths in the United States is caused by lung cancer, and this ratio is expected to increase in the next ten years. according to the October 7th issue of the Journal of the A.M.A. But this year sales of cigarettes declined for the first time: hopefully a snowballing trend. What has been the response of cigarette manufacturers?

They’ve made their cigarettes longer, thereby hooking the user all the more.

Tobacco is an addicting drug. The more one smokes, the harder it is to give up the habit. Those extra millimeters added to already king-size cancer sticks are more than a promotional gimmick.

Cigarettes and Pregnancy

The cause for most birth defects and miscarriages in this country is unknown. Cigarette smoking may be a major factor.

An article in the “Archives of Environmental Health” reported a study of 2,016 married women which revealed these interesting findings:

1. Cigarette smoking women had an increased rate of miscarriages, fewer pregnancies and more infertility.

2. The husband’s smoking habits seemed to have little to do with the wife’s reproductive history. This suggests that ova might be affected adversely before fertilization by spermatozoa.

Put This in Your Pipe!

Those who have switched from cigarettes to pipes or cigars may only have traded lung cancer for kidney cancer.

Cancer of the kidney occurs five times as much in cigarette smokers as in those who do not use tobacco at all. But pipe. and cigar smokers run twice the risk of cigarette smokers of developing cancer of the kidney, reported two Seattle pathologists in “Cancer.” Pipe and cigar smokers usually do not inhale so the site of irritation isn’t the lungs. Instead, the smoke is absorbed by the mucus membranes of the mouth or the stomach, circulated through the bloodstream and filtered by the kidneys.

Innocent Victims

“Antibiotic News” (the names of some medical periodicals are unintentionally funny) for October contains an interesting item about unwitting victims of tobacco freaks.

Dr. Paul Cameron, of Wayne State University, found that children of tobacco users have twice as much respiratory disease as children in non smoking families.

“We also were able to correlate the amount of sickness with the amount of smoke in the household. The more smoke, the more respiratory illness.”

Dr. Cameron said that all the differences between the “smoke” and “no-smoke” groups were statistically significant.

“Children are known to be particularly susceptible to air pollution. And these findings, though not definitive, suggest that they are also particularly susceptible to that air pollution caused by cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke.” the Wayne State physician concluded.

I shared an apartment my first two years of medical school with an extremely bright but very nervous student who smoked close to three packs of cigarettes daily. A loving, intelligent wife, three healthy boys, the passage of a few years, signs of financial security and years of psychoanalytic training (in that order I believe) have combined to make him a relaxed happy man today. He co-authored a psychoanalytic study of the “theatre of the absurd” which made news on the theatre pages a year or so ago.

But I recall a tiny living room in an apartment over a garage and in the center of dense smog, a tense figure tapping his foot. Dammit, Norman, I told you my lungs were being blackened!