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Smoking Linked to Skin Cancer in Women

December 16, 2011
By

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) — If you’re a woman who smokes and
you are looking for another reason to quit, consider this: A new study has
found a link between tobacco use and skin cancer.

The study found that women who had squamous cell skin cancer were more
likely to have smoked than those who were free from the disease. And
those who smoked at least 20 years were twice as likely to develop
squamous cell skin cancer, a less aggressive form of skin cancer than
melanoma.

Men who smoked had a modest risk for the two types of non-melanoma skin
cancer — basal cell and squamous cell cancer — but the results weren’t
statistically significant, the study authors noted.

“We don’t know why,” said study lead author Dana Rollison, referring to
the difference between women’s and men’s risk. Both men and women get a
lot of exposure to the sun, the main risk factor for skin cancer, she
noted.

But lung cancer research may offer a clue, said Rollison, an associate
member in the Moffitt Cancer Center department of cancer epidemiology, in
Tampa, Fla. Hormonal differences affecting the metabolization of nicotine
and the body’s ability to repair damage to lung DNA caused by smoking have
been noted before, suggesting that the female hormone estrogen may play a
role, she said.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer Causes
Control
, was done at the Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of
South Florida, also in Tampa.

For the study, 383 patients with skin cancer were compared to 315
people without the disease. The participants were asked how much they
smoked, when they picked up the habit and the total number of years they’d
smoked. A total of 355 men and 343 women were included in the study. All
were white, the group most at risk for skin cancer. Risks for both types
of non-melanoma skin cancer were analyzed separately, compensating for the
presence of other risk factors.

The researchers found that the more people smoked, the more likely they
were to have skin cancer, Rollison said. Men who had basal cell skin
cancer were significantly more likely to have smoked for at least 20 years
than men with no cancer, the study authors noted.

While the study found an association between smoking and skin cancer
risk, it did not prove a cause and effect.

Despite the elevated smoking-related risk among women, men overall are
more likely to get skin cancer, Rollison noted. She said that “it is
possible men’s skin is more sensitive to sun exposure than women’s.”

But another skin cancer expert suggested that men may be less inclined
to use sunscreen or other protection when outdoors.

“Although it could just be a genetic difference (between men and
women), men tend to have more unprotected sun exposure in their lives,”
said Dr. Jeffrey Dover, associate clinical professor of dermatology at
Yale University Medical School.

Dover said the study findings weren’t surprising because “we know
cigarette smoke contains carcinogens” and smokers are “blowing the smoke
and ash around their faces all day.”

The study is important, he added, because “although we have done well,
we can do even better” at eliminating smoking as a cause of disease. “This
adds more fuel to the idea that smoking has no place in our society.”

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the
United States, where about 2 million cases are treated annually, according
to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Squamous cell cancer occurs in
the epidermis, the top layer of skin, and can spread to other organs.
Basal cell skin cancer occurs in the dermis, the skin layer beneath the
epidermis. While it does not spread to other organs, it is far more common
than squamous cell cancer, according to the government agency.

More information

To learn more about skin cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/smoking-linked-skin-cancer-women-140609419.html

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