A male smoker who is diagnosed with prostate cancer has a higher risk of dying from the disease as well as dying from any cause compared to a lifetime non-smoker with prostate cancer, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reported in the journal JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). Smoking is also linked to a higher chance of prostate cancer recurrence, the authors added.

Growing evidence is pointing towards a close link between smoking and a higher chance of having aggressive prostate cancer and dying from the disease, the researchers explained. However, not many studies have focused on how smoking might impact on prostate cancer mortality or recurrence.

Stacey A. Kenfield, Sc.D., and team set out to find out what impact smoking might have on prostate cancer mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, as well as prostate cancer recurrence. They also assessed how giving up smoking might affect outcomes.

They gathered and evaluated data on 5,366 males who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1986 and 2006 in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

32% (1,630) of them died, of which 524 (32%) were due to prostate cancer, 26% (416) from cardiovascular disease, and 878 from prostate cancer recurrences. Their analysis showed that smokers had a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, cancer-recurrence, or from any cause compared to lifetime non-smokers.

The longer the patient had been smoking, the higher was his risk of dying from prostate cancer or cardiovascular disease, but not biochemical recurrence.

Men who had given up smoking for ten years had similar prostate cancer mortality risks as lifetime non-smokers.

The authors wrote that the carcinogens in tobacco smoke could encourage tumor promotion, as well as higher testosterone levels. The researchers concluded:

"In summary, smoking at the time of diagnosis was associated with substantially increased overall mortality and prostate cancer mortality and recurrence. Ten-year quitters had risks similar to never smokers. These results provide further support that smoking may increase risk of death from prostate cancer."

"Smoking and Prostate Cancer Survival and Recurrence"
Stacey A. Kenfield, ScD; Meir J. Stampfer, MD, DrPH; June M. Chan, ScD; Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD
JAMA. 2011;305(24):2548-2555. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.879

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