Drinkers, Smokers Less Likely to Survive Cancer

Men diagnosed with cancer are less likely to survive the disease if they were smokers or heavy drinkers, Reuters reported Nov. 7.
Smoking and drinking are well-known risk factors for cancer, but researchers have begun looking into how these addictions affect survivability, as well. Researcher Young Ho Yun and colleagues at the National Cancer Center in Goyang, South Korea tracked 14,578 cancer patients for about nine years and compared mortality data to patients’ history of smoking and alcohol use.
The researchers found that former smokers were more likely to die from any kind of cancer than non-smoking cancer patients, possibly because smoking causes tumors to grow more aggressively. Smokers also may be less likely to get cancer screening tests, the authors noted, so their disease is often further advanced when treatment begins.
Among patients with head, neck, or liver cancer, heavy drinkers were more likely to die than non-drinkers, with risk increasing with consumption levels.
“Our findings suggest that groups at high risk of cancer need to be educated continually to improve their health behaviors — not only to prevent cancer, but also to improve prognosis,” the study authors noted.
The research appears in the Nov. 1, 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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