Paul Newman's Passing Draws Attention to Lung Cancer Rate in U.S.

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My grandma's favorite actor is Paul Newman. Old Blue Eyes, she'd say when we talked about movies, and gaze dreamily into space. Newman passed away over the weekend at age 83, and my grandma's own blue eyes misted up when heard the news. Mine did, too.

Newman, (above, left) an Oscar winner, philanthropist and organic food pioneer, had a long and rich life. He raced cars, continued acting into his 80s and lived a fairly quiet existence on the East Coast with his longtime wife, actress Joanne Woodward. He had long given up the fast-paced Hollywood lifestyle and reportedly quit smoking about 30 years ago.

Still, lung cancer claimed his life.

"[S]topping does help curb damage to your lungs as the years pass, the chance of getting lung cancer is never completely gone.
“The risk continues for at least 10 more years even after you’ve quit,” Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer kills more Americans each year than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

Newman's passing can be a lesson to us all, but it won't become a lecture here.

For more information on how smoking negatively affects your health, click here.
If you or someone you know is trying to quit, please visit the American Lung Association's website.
And if you're looking for others to offer support you while you quit smoking, click here.

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sad to hear! Report
I quit, after 20 years of pack a day smoking and after three major tries. I finally prayed seriously and just quit, with none of the previously experienced horrible cravings. In fact, I immediately couldn't stand the smell of cigarettes or the same of cigarette smokers. Thank you Lord! Now, 30 years later I have COPD, partially the smoking and also adult onset asthma. The doctor told me that the smoking is what messed me up though. I'm doing everything I can to overcome this. My pulmonary specialist says I'm the best patient he has ever had, but that only means it will take longer before my life becomes very limited and much shorter. My message, lung cancer is not the only major disease you get when you smoke. I'm 70 and have done all kinds of dancing the last 14 years. I still dance half dances and square dance instead of swing, so watch you stamina. If it starts to go, get it checked out right away, and fight, fight, fight. Report
I agree with Joyalesco. My very dear friend died at age 52 of lung cancer. She never smoked, never lived with a smoker, had a very healthy lifestyle, exercise, fresh air, careful what she ate. No one in her family ever had it. It is CANCER and can show up in any of us. Not just smokers. Report
My mother is currently battling lung cancer. She has a terminal diagnosis but continues to try. She has never smoked a day in her life. The doctor said the most likely cause is RADON. She has been a stay at home mother for her adult life. She had no exposure to any other known carcinogenic agents. I feel that I always have to qualify my statements when someone asks about her cancer with "she never smoked" because everyone assumes that if you have lung cancer then you must have smoked. My husband died on 021613 from heart failure. He was a 3 pack a day smoker but his lungs were fine. Smoking damaged his heart instead. He did not smoke in my mother's house. He always smoked outside. He tried repeated to quit but was never able to stick with it. Report
How I wish I had seen this blog when it first posted! It is SO depressing that EVERY discussion of lung cancer is ONLY about smoking. First, let me make my position perfectly clear - I ABHOR SMOKING! (So why is it we still subsidize the growing of tobacco???)

However, lung cancer is NOT all about smoking! It is a disease. The major cancer organizations have done a great job in making us believe that it is simply a matter of getting everyone to stop smoking and lung cancer will disappear tomorrow.

And the result? People who never smoked or quit smoking years (often decades) before think they have no risk. Even the medical community buys into it. Consequently, there is a HUGE STIGMA against lung cancer having disastrous effects including the following:

* Every non-smoker I know has been misdiagnosed - some for months or years as their disease progressed.
* Most people don't know that lung cancer kills twice the number of women as breast cancer and three times the number of men as prostate cancer, yet is grossly underfunded.
*Lung cancer patients are constatnty having to defend themselves against people who imply they "got what they asked for" (smoker or non-smoker - no one DESERVES lung cancer!) Where is the compassion and sense of urgency shown to every other kind of cancer patient?

Oh, and by the way, did you know that only 1 out of 10 smokers will get lung cancer? So when will we make finding some answers for lung cancer a priority in this country? Report
My father died when I was 21. He smoked from his early teens until he found out he had cancer at 51. (I just turned 50, and now I understand how young he was.) He was devasted to hear the cancer diagnosis. He really did want to quit...he tried many times...but nothing was available for him at that time. My DH recently quit though this is about the 5th time so I can only hope he doesn't go back to it. My brother also smokes and has tried to quit but so far it hasn't happened.

I will continue to make sure my kids know EVERY negative thing about smoking since they are in their teen years and can be influenced by those who want everyone else to join them in their destructive habits. So sorry to hear about Paul Newman...what a waste due to the poisons of smoking. Report
My husband died of lung cancer in 2000. He had never smoked a cigarette. Instead, he had smoked cigars because there was no warning on them. I wish all movies, TV shows, video games, etc. would quit showing people smoking cigarettes. Our kids are just too vulnerable to them. Report
My grandfather died of lung cancer when I was around 12. The worst part of it was the fact that we used to give him a carton of cigarettes for Christmas. He was the only one in the family who smoked and so far the only one to die of lung cancer. If you smoke, give it your best shot to quit. Report
My mom died 33 days of lung cancer. She was 55 yrs old. She was diagnosed in June and died 83 days later. She had a nasty "smoker's cough" for years which kept my sister, my dtr and myself from ever smoking. I know that quitting any addiction is not easy but if any of you have dtrs, please quit for them. As a dtr, watching your mother day of lung cancer sucks. Report
My husband quit smoking almost 3 years ago after having done it for 35 years. Just 45 minutes after he had smoked his last cigarette, we recieved a call from his mother telling us that they had diagnosed her with lung cancer earlier that day. We lost her 9 months later to lung cancer at the age of 69.

It's always in the back of my mind that someday I might lose my husband to it also. He smoked a lot longer than his mom did. But I'm so glad that he quit and that maybe we will have a few more years together than if he was still smoking. We've only been married 6 years, but he's only 16 years away from the age that his mom passed away at. Report
I quit smoking over three and a half years ago using laser therapy. I smoked a pack and a half a day for 35 years and immediately after my first session with the laser I was a non-smoker! Report
I worry about my son b/c he started smoking in middle school. We did not know until he joined the Army. He said he was winded during PT. I asked why and he said that he had been smoking since 9th grade. He has tried to stop smoking in the Army, but has taken up dipping- everyone does it in the military. I have bought him gum to quit, but he does not stick with it long and goes back to cigerettes b/c it is all around him. We live in a smoke-free house. Report
I quit 10 years ago, after smoking for 25. I don't miss it at all. The first year was hard and now, I can't believe I ever was a smoker. Disgusting habit - so glad I quit! Report
Congrats to all who have quit ... I have never enjoyed being around smoke. People just don't know the damages that even 2 hand smoke does.
I loved Paul Newman, he was one of my favorite actors! He will dearly be missed in this world. I do have a bad feeling toward lung cancer and smoking. My husband smokes and has since he was 14 years old. His father is on oxygen because of his health--caused from smoking, yet they BOTH still smoke. For those who are able to quit, I salute you! For those who are thinking of quitting, please do everything you can to quit! Report
To those who have commented on Mr. Newman being an advocate for not smoking... The man was 83. He was very ill and undergoing treatment. And, in general, highly valued his privacy (I know - I met the man on more than one occasion). Now, I have been very fortunate that I have never undergone treatment for cancer but those who I have seen go through it - some wouldn't even think about advocating until they recovered and had the energy. Give the man a break. He's raise so much money from the profits of his Newman's Own products for his Hole in the Wall gang... a person can only do so much.

Sorry to be on my soap box but when a person is possibly dieing, no matter if they are famous or not, they have a right to their privacy. And criticizing a man who has more than done his civic duty in other areas... just think that's unfair criticism.

Beyond that... smoking doesn't just lead to lung cancer. My mom just had a quad bypass. And with three asthmatics in the house (me included), doctors were constantly in awe of the fact that she never once considered stopping (and I had severe asthma!). Go figure.

GOOD FOR YOU - all who have quit and all who have survived. Report
I also am truly saddened to hear of Paul Newman's death. He was a great actor and I enjoyed his films.
I am also an ex-smoker. It has been a year since I quit and I still miss my cigarettes. They were so much a part of me. I lost a husband and sister within 3 months of each other to lung cancer. That was seventeen years ago and it still took me all that time to finally quit. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I also was motivated by my 5 year old grandson who informed me he wanted to smoke. That was it for me. I hope and pray that I have the strength to stay smoke free. Report
Having a child with cancer... what gets under my skin is that we recently got together with families that have children with cancer... and it's unbelievable how many of the parents smoke. It just kills me! Report
It is sad to loss such a great legend as Paul Newman. Congrats to all the SP members that have quit smoking. Report
I lost my Dad to Lung cancer 23 years ago ant the age of 48. It took me 3 tries to get my quit right and i am happy to say I've been smoke free for almost 6 months! I know that i will never pick up a cigarette again, the smell nauseates me now and I still can't believe I ever smoked! Report
I smoked from the time I was 13 until I was 29 years old. That means it's been nearly 13 years since I quit, and I'm very proud of finally quitting that horrible habit. I tried many times to quit, but finally just decided I wanted to be healthier.

My parents both smoked, and my grandma smoked. She was my favorite relative and I loved her so much. It was agony to watch her die of lung cancer. She was diagnosed and within a week was gone. I'm sure she knew she was sick, she just refused to do anything about it. She smoked until the minute she was admitted to the hospital.

My husband, who encouraged me to quit and who was never addicted to smoking like I was, still occasionally smokes at parties. We have one daughter who I never want to smoke. Writing this has made me realize that he needs to stop smoking at parties or anywhere so she has no excuse to ever try it.

My heart was saddened by the passing of Paul Newman, but he left a wonderful legacy and his family should feel proud of the positive energy that he left in the world. Report
As a Lung Cancer survivor I am fully aware of the impact this disease can have on a person and their family. My heart goes out to the Newman family and every person and family fighting this disease. Report
My mother and sister quit smoking cold turkey and that was 7 years ago and they are still smoke free.
Paul Newman was a gift to films. Report
All you former smokers rock! Kudos to you for not just understanding that smoking could kill you--but doing something so positive as truly quitting! Report
I had seen in a Tabloid last year that he was coming in the side door of a Cancer Doctor's office in New York City, and the Tabloid said he was being treated for Cancer. I think with all of his fame, it was pathetic that he didn't speak out about NOT SMOKING and being screened for Cancer. He could have influenced a lot of people. My husband said he was sure being such a Macho Character, that he didn't want to admit he was sick. Report
The effects of smoking go on and on. My father, a smoker, died of a heart attack at 49. My brother also a smoker died of a heart attack at 48, and I had a double bypass at 49. I have not smoked since the day before my surgery, next month will be 3 years. If it doesn't get you one way it will another. I only wish I had stopped sooner, or better yet never picked it up. By the way my husband, also a smoker, stopped the day I came home from the hospital, so the truth is you CAN stop for the love of other people too. Report
He was a great actor and did alot for other people.
I spent the weekend in a bar helpping my son who owns it. Everybody in that bar was smoking mostly young girls. Report
I was so sad when I heard of his passing. It reminded me of my husband who died of lung cancer just over three years ago. He was diagnosed 6 weeks before he died. He was only 60. He had all the risk factors. His Dad died of it, he smoked, he was a heavy drinker when he was younger, he was brought up and worked on his father's farm among all the grains and chemicals, he sandblasted and spray painted. He had older brothers, who all did the same, but they are all still living without lung problems. I guess he was the one more susceptible to it. Report
Just wanted to say a big CONGRATS to all those who have left comments about how they (and their family members) have quit smoking! It was inspirational to read your stories, I'm sure by sharing them you will inspire someone to quit for good! Report
It was sad to hear that he passed away....not only because of the legend that he was, but because it reminded me of the loss of my dad from lung cancer.

Unfortunately, back when they started, they didn't know how horrible it was and the effects it had on your body - even years after quitting. My father tried to quit tons of times, and always failed, until the first time he got lung cancer at 59. The reason he quit?? He was on so much chemo, he had no idea that he wasn't smoking! Well, he only had a 5% chance of survival, and he did it for 13 years. In between that time, he had a 2nd lung cancer show up a year later - totally different kind - and a lobe of lung removed. Then "cured" for 13 years. In 2004, he had a heart attack and a stent was put in - he felt great, but 5 months later, he felt like he was having a heart attack again. When he went in, they found lung cancer again, but it had also spread to his brain. Even with aggressive chemo and radiation, my dad only lived 3 months. He died at 72....I wish he could've lived as long as Paul Newman did - I would cherish those additional years with him, especially for our son who was so close to him.

With as much information as we have today, it just kills me to see young kids walking around smoking, or even smoking "hookah" because they think it's not harmful or addictive. I would never wish the painful death and loss that it has caused my family and many others around me, and I pray that the youth starts waking up and realizes how horrible smoking is.

It should be not only affects the person doing it, but others around them. There is nothing good that comes from it, and don't be fooled - it IS a drug.

Sorry for going on so long, but this is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. My dad was a strong man, and smoking took him away from us. Report
My husband and I both quit smoking (cold turkey) on January 1, 1981. We quit with the moon signs of the Old Farmers Almanac. I had tried to quit several times before with no success. I was smoking almost 2 packs of cigarettes a day. I used to have asthma related to my smoking back then and I do not have it anymore. I know what it is like to not be able to get a good breath and I didn't want to have that problem anymore. I am so thankful that I was able to finally quit, as it is really a hard habit to break. Report
That lung cancer can still kill years after quitting is a testament that we need to educate our children (teens and young adults, too) to this fact.

What a legacy Mr. Newman lived...they just don't have true Hollywood legends anymore. Report
Pretty sad. We'll all miss him, I think, and enjoy seeing some of his movies over and over. He lived in the same small town as my daughter and family (Weston, CT) and was occasionally seen around town, she said. Report
I quit 40 years ago last month. I have high hopes that I will not be a victim of lung cancer. Both my aunts died of lung cancer and related complications. My mother is a breast cancer survivor-so the pre-disposition for both forms of cancer are probably there. By leading a healthy lifestyle, I am hoping that I am minimizing my risks.

My eyes misted too when I heard that Paul Newman died. I considered him an exceptional actor, humanitarian, and fellow human. My thoughts go out to his family. Report
It has been 10 1/2 yrs agot that I quit. My daughter was picking up straws and holding them like a cigarette and saying "Look, mommy! I'm smoking, just like you!" Talk about a wake up call! Report
He will missed & I know 83 years old is considered mature but boy he was STILL a looker!! Report
I am 77 yrs old and I quit smoking at 17 yrs old.
I met my now DH, and he didn't smoke so I got into the habit of not smoking either,
Infact he didn't date girls that smoked, sooooooo.
We have now been married 60 yrs tomorrow, Thursday October 2nd. WOW!!!!!!! Report
I quit 02/23/07 on my baby girls 8th birthday. I quit with the help of Chantix I was a lucky one that could take it with minimal side affects. My Mother has lung cancer. She smoked all my life she to has quit. I know of people who have never smoked that have become victims to lung cancer. It's not a matter of who will get it any more it's when will I get it? This statement isn't just for lung cancer it's all cancer. Report
Oh...this is so important to me. My husband is a former smoker. He only smoked for about 5 years, and he quit about 9.5 years ago.

I have an aunt who never smoked, but developed lung cancer anyway. I believe it was from 2nd hand smoke in a factory in which she worked in the 70s.

When I had a life-threatening emergency in Italy, last year, I was amazed that the doctors and nurses smoked inside the hospital!!

I have good friends who smoke. They know it's bad for them. They're legitimately addicted, and they're trying to quit. Lecturing is definitely not the way to be helpful. Most people understand that smoking is bad for them. I'm honestly sad to see my strong friends addicted to something so harmful. I'm glad to see that it is less and less acceptable in public, because I know it is helping my friends cut back and even quit.

Thank you for the article and good luck to those who are cutting back and quitting! I know it's so hard, and I'm really proud of those of you who are strong enough to cut back and/or quit! Report
I was sadden to hear of Mr. Newman's death. I recall the most powerful commerical I ever saw about lung cancer it was Mr. Yul Brenner the jist of the commerical was smoking caused lung cancer which killed him. Powerful! Report
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