Smoking Ups Prostate Cancer Risk

Smoking, the leading preventable cause of death in America, is linked to some 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs annually. Now, says CNN, cigarette smoking men with <"">prostate cancer—who are smokers when diagnosed—are likelier to die of the cancer or to experience a recurrence of the disease, versus nonsmokers and former smokers who quit smoking at least 10 years prior to diagnosis.

The study, government funded, was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and looked at 5,366 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1986 and 2006, said CNN; the men were followed for about eight years. The research revealed that about 10 percent of the men died and 16 percent experienced a prostate cancer recurrence following treatment, said CNN.

Men who were smoking when they were diagnosed with the cancer were 61 percent likelier to die and 61 percent likelier to experience a recurrence, said CNN. According to Stacey A. Kenfield, Sc.D., an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public, if you smoke, “you will have a more aggressive cancer,” quoted CNN.

CNN reports that smokers are typically not as healthy as nonsmokers, who tend to receive more prostate cancer screens, so their chances of being diagnosed with advanced stage cancer is lower. But, even when considering cancer severity, 38 percent of smokers were likelier to die and 47 percent were likelier to experience a recurrence, versus nonsmokers, explained CNN.

“[These] data suggest that smokers develop cancers that are more likely to kill them,” said Joshi Alumkal, M.D., prostate cancer specialist at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, quoted CNN. Dr. Alumkal was not involved in the study. “Smoking is a key factor that determines how aggressive prostate cancer will be,” Dr. Alumkal added.

Kenfield and colleagues believe smoking might directly affect cancer’s aggressiveness, noting that the carcinogens in tobacco smoke may hasten the growth of tumors and increase testosterone levels, wrote CNN. The study found that the heavier the smoker and the longer the time smoking, the worse the outcome. Those who smoked one pack daily for 40 years, the equivalent of two packs a day for 20 years, were 82 percent likelier to die from prostate cancer versus non smokers, said CNN.

“Early on we may have cancers within us,” he says. “Smoking could aggravate and accelerate their growth,” said Alumkal, quoted CNN. About one in every six men will develop prostate cancer, the most common male cancer in America and, after lung cancer, the second deadliest, noted CNN. The American Cancer Society said about 32,000 men died of prostate cancer in 2010.

Earlier this year, we wrote that cigarette smoking could increase risks for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. WebMD wrote that another study added to existing evidence about the smoking-ALS link. We also previously wrote that another study found stronger evidence linking cigarette smoking to colorectal cancer. And, another study concluded that just one cigarette can adversely affect young adults, increasing arterial stiffness in people 18 to 30 years of age by a surprising 25 percent. Stiff—or rigid—arteries can lead to cardiac issues because vessel resistance is increased and the heart has to work harder, which can lead to heart disease and stroke risk. New research also suggests that cigarette smoking creates damage in the body just minutes after a smoker inhales for the very first time.

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