Smoke and mirrors: the impact of smoking on cancer survivors

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Cancer, Smoking, and Your Health

Imagine if you’re diagnosed with a scary disease like cancer. It’s stressful, isn’t it?

Dr. Hyeok-Hee Lee, a doctor from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, explains that people sometimes change how they behave when they’re stressed out.

This could include smoking, even if they know it’s bad for their health. But how much harm can smoking really do after a cancer diagnosis?

A Study of Cancer Survivors

Dr. Lee and his team decided to study this. They used a lot of health information from cancer survivors in Korea.

They looked at data from more than 300,000 cancer survivors. All these people were aged around 59 years old, and about half of them were women.

The team wanted to find out if these people changed their smoking habits after finding out they had cancer.

They made four groups: (1) people who never smoked, (2) people who quit smoking after the diagnosis, (3) people who started or returned to smoking, and (4) people who kept smoking.

What the Numbers Say

The results were surprising. Most people, about 81%, never smoked. Some, about 10%, quit smoking after they got cancer.

A small number, around 1.5%, started or went back to smoking. About 7.5% continued to smoke even after knowing they had cancer.

Now, the next part is really important. Dr. Lee and his team looked at the risk of heart disease and strokes for these people.

They found that compared to people who never smoked, those who continued to smoke after their diagnosis had an 86% higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or death from these conditions.

Those who started or went back to smoking had a 51% higher risk. But those who quit smoking only had a 20% higher risk.

Why Quitting Smoking Matters

The benefits of quitting smoking were obvious. More than half of the people who were smokers quit after they learned they had cancer.

This decision reduced their risk of heart problems by 36% compared to those who kept smoking.

Some people didn’t quit but cut down on their smoking. However, this didn’t seem to make a difference. Their risk of heart disease was the same as if they hadn’t cut down at all.

The Problem with Starting to Smoke

What about people who started smoking after their diagnosis? About 2% of those who never smoked before began smoking after finding out they had cancer. This decision increased their risk of heart disease by 51%.

The Final Verdict

So, what does this all mean? Dr. Lee said that his study shows that it’s really important for people to quit smoking, even after a cancer diagnosis. Continuing to smoke or starting to smoke can make your health much worse.

We still need to understand why some cancer survivors start smoking. Some might be using it as a way to handle their stress.

Others might think they don’t need to live healthy anymore. More studies need to be done to figure this out.

For now, though, it’s clear that smoking is harmful for everyone, especially for people who have or had cancer. It’s crucial for these people to quit smoking to stay healthy. Let’s help them kick the habit for good.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects risks of heart disease and cancer, and results showing dairy foods may be linked to liver cancer and breast cancer.

The study was published in European Heart Journal.

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