The Korea Herald


Study finds skin cancer link to smoking

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 15, 2011 - 20:00

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Female smokers  four times more  likely to get form of  non-melanoma tumors

There are scores of reasons not to smoke, and a recent study has added one more: it may cause skin cancer.

Dr. Dana Rollison of the Moffitt Cancer Center recruited 698 participants ― 383 diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, both skin cancers, and 315 with no history of skin cancer.

The researchers found smoking was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer overall and that the risk increased with the number of cigarettes per day, total years of smoking and pack-years smoked.

They found that women were strongly associated with SCC ― four times more likely to get it than non-smokers ― but not BCC. The relationship between smoking and SCC and BCC in men was not statistically significant.

“Observation from the lung cancer literature may provide possible explanations for why smoking was a higher risk factor for SCC in women,” Rollison and others wrote.

“Female current smokers have higher lung cancer risks than men. Women have been shown to have more active CYP enzyme activity in the lung, where CYP is responsible for metabolizing 70-80 percent of nicotine. In addition, the up-regulation of CYP by estrogen may play a role,” she wrote.

The findings were printed in the latest edition of Cancer Causes Control.

Cigarettes contain more than 50 chemicals that cause cancer, and smoking is linked to coronary heart disease and many other fatal disorders.

Forty countries already require cigarette packaging to carry warnings on the dangers of smoking. Canada and Europe pioneered the practice, and several developing countries, including Mauritius, Uruguay, Thailand, Malaysia and India, also preceded the U.S. in requiring such graphic anti-smoking messages. The campaign is said to have curbed the smoking rate in Brazil by 10 percent and 7 percent in Canada.

Most recently, the U.S. adopted nine graphic images that will adorn every cigarette pack sold from next year, in an effort to induce as many as 213,000 of the country’s 46 million smokers to quit in just the first year of the campaign.

The images chosen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are captioned with simple text warning cigarette buyers about the known consequences of their habit. One depicts a recently autopsied cadaver and states simply, “Smoking can kill you.”

In Korea, the Ministry of Health and Welfare launched the slogan, “No smoking is common sense, even if no one tells you so.”

A total of 340,638 spots nationwide, including Seoul, Gwanghwamun and Cheonggye plazas in central Seoul, are designated smoke-free areas. A free call center is in operation to help smokers ditch their cigarettes while local public health care centers monitor those in need of around-the-clock advice.

“If some foods were found with just a single carcinogen, people would panic and demand the government monitor their distribution and management tightly. They might ask for sales ban, too,” said lawyer Bae Geum-ja in a previous interview with The Korea Herald.

“But when it comes to cigarettes, people are numb and think it is a matter of choice.”

By Bae Ji-sook (