“Today, the number one killer of people with HIV on treatment in the U.S. is not the virus, it’s smoking,” said lead study author Dr. Krishna Reddy of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
“The widespread use of antiviral medicines today is enabling people with HIV to live longer, but they are now dying from cancer at rates often higher than those among the general population,” Reddy said by email. “Lung cancer is chief among these cancers.”
For the study, researchers estimated the odds of dying from lung cancer based on whether people starting HIV care at age 40 were current smokers, and if so, whether or not they quit.
Overall, they found, people with HIV who continued to smoke were 6 to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from traditional AIDS-related causes.
“This may also be due in part or primarily to higher tobacco use, and should strongly support quitting,” Mitsuyasu, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
“HIV-infected people have taken charge of their fate by being compliant with their antiretroviral medication,” Olszanski, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
“It is important for them now to take charge of their other health-related risks,” Olszanski added. “Quitting smoking is likely to drastically decrease their risk of developing lung cancer as well as other smoking-related illnesses.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2fvfM4A JAMA Internal Medicine, online September 18, 2017.