Save (your) face stop smoking

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A new study has found more evidence to link cigarette smoking to one type of skin cancer, supporting earlier studies that have observed significant associations between the two. This study, published in Cancer Causes Control, found a significantly increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma among female smokers. (For reasons unknown, the link between smoking and skin cancer was not as strong among their male counterparts.)

Researchers from the Moffit Cancer Center and the University of South Florida, both in Tampa, compared 383 white skin cancer patients with 315 people who did not have the disease. By considering the participants smoking habits, as well as the age at which they picked up the habit, the researchers found that the more a person smoked, the more likely they were to develop the squamous-cell type of skin cancer. However, it was the correlation between female smokers and the disease that attracted the most attention. Women who had smoked for at least 20 years were twice as likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer, while the correlation between smoking and skin cancer in men was not statistically significant.

The results of the study are especially interesting because, in the general population, men are more likely to develop skin cancer. And, while the researchers stress that their study does not establish a causal relationship between smoking and squamous cell cancer in women, they speculate that estrogen may play a role. Lead study author Dana Rollison pointed out that earlier studies on lung cancer have found that hormonal differences affect the body s ability to repair damage in lung DNA caused by smoking.

Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of skin cancer, and the most common cancer diagnoses in the U.S., ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross observes. He notes that the correlation between squamous cell skin cancer and smoking was discussed in a classic 2003 ACSH publication, Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn t Tell You. The fact that long-term female smokers were twice as likely to develop skin cancer is just one more reason to stay away from cigarettes, he says.