London: Armed Forces veterans in Scotland,born in the 1940s and 1950s, are at an increased risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers, according to a new study.
Research showed military personnel in the early 1960s were around 20 per cent more likely to smoke than civilians, and also that they smoked more heavily. A recent study by researchers at the University of Glasgow showed that older veterans were at increased risk of heart attacks, and the researchers suggested that higher rates of smoking may be responsible.
The study analysed the long-term risks of smoking-related cancer, including lung, throat, stomach and bladder cancer. The researchers found that overall, veterans had a 20 per cent higher risk of these cancers than people who had no record of service, but the risk was highest in those born in the late 1940s and 1950s, and also in veterans who left after the shortest service; they had a 45 per cent higher risk of lung cancer than non-veterans.
Veterans who were born after 1960 had a reduced risk of smoking-related cancer. "This is an important study which supports the earlier indication, from our previous research, that the high rates of military smoking that were reported in young soldiers in the 1960s and early 1970s have had serious consequences for
veterans' long-term health," said lead researcher Beverly Bergman.
Recent military health promotion campaigns have reduced in-service smoking rates and are showing clear benefits to later generations of service personnel, Bergman said. "People with the shortest service may not have served for long enough to benefit from these campaigns. Veterans who have been smoking for many years can still reduce their risk of these serious diseases by stopping smoking, as it is never too late to quit."
The study, which used data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study to examine rates of hospital admission and death due to smoking-related cancer, is published in BMC Cancer.