20% of smoking-related cancer survivors continue to smoke, study finds

One in five survivors of smoking-related cancers continue to smoke, a new study has found. Photo by Free-Photos/Pixabay
One in five survivors of smoking-related cancers continue to smoke, a new study has found. Photo by Free-Photos/Pixabay

July 2 (UPI) -- Nearly 20 percent of survivors of smoking-related cancers continued to smoke even after recovery, according to a study published Thursday by JAMA Network Open.

Smoking-related cancers include those of the bladder, blood, cervix, colon, esophagus, kidney, larynx or windpipe, leukemia, lung, liver, mouth, tongue, lip, pancreas, rectum, stomach, throat or pharynx and uterus, the researchers said.


The percentage was far greater among survivors of all types of cancer who had been smokers. More than half -- 56 percent -- remained active smokers, they said.

"The percentage of current smokers among smoking-related cancer survivors was ... substantially higher than that in the general population of about 14 percent," study co-author Sanjay Shete told UPI.

"We expected that a cancer diagnosis will be a teachable moment to adapt healthy lifestyle by quitting smoking, but the message that continuing to smoke will lead to further complications and poor survival [needs to] be more broadly disseminated," said Shete, deputy division head for cancer prevention and population sciences at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer.

Shete and his colleagues analyzed data on nearly 27,000 American adults 18 years old or older who participated in the 2017 National Health Interview Survey. The survey is designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population, they said.


Of the 3,068 cancer survivors in the study population, 589 -- or just under 20 percent -- had recovered from smoking-related diseases, and 96 -- or roughly 16 percent -- were 45 years old or younger, the researchers said.

In all, 372 cancer survivors -- just over 13 percent -- were current smokers. Smoking prevalence was higher among survivors of smoking-related cancers -- at 19.8 percent -- compared to survivors of other cancers -- at 10.6 percent, the researchers said.

Just under 44 percent of participants who smoked at the time of their cancer diagnosis said they successfully quit the habit, according to the researchers.

Among active smokers, nearly 57 percent said they had attempted to quit, unsuccessfully, at least once in the 12 months before participation in the study, the researchers said.

Overall, survivors of smoking-related cancers were more than twice as likely to continue smoking compared to survivors of other cancers, they said.

"Quitting smoking at any stage in life will dramatically decrease the risk of cancers and other health conditions," Shete said. "If you or someone you know are continuing to smoke, even after cancer diagnosis, you should seek professional help."

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