Smoking ups prostate cancer deaths

Smokers who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have aggressive tumours and face a higher death risk from the disease than non-smokers, US researchers said.

Men who smoked at the time of diagnosis faced 61% higher risk of dying from prostate cancer and a 61% higher chance that the cancer would come back compared to men who never smoked, said researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and University of California, San Francisco.

Among smokers and non-smokers whose cancers had not spread at the time of diagnosis, known as non-metastatic cancers, smokers had an 80% higher risk of dying from their prostate cancer.

However, former smokers who had quit 10 years or more before they were diagnosed saw a risk of recurrence and death similar to men who never smoked, said the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These data are exciting because there are few known ways for a man to reduce his risk of dying from prostate cancer," said senior author Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology.

"For smokers, quitting can impact their risk of dying from prostate cancer. This is another reason to not smoke."

The study examined the health records of 5,366 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1986 and 2006. During that time, they found 1,630 deaths, 524 (32%) due to prostate cancer and 416 (26%) due to heart disease.

Cancer of the prostate the most commonly diagnosed cancer among US men, and affects about one in six Americans in their lifetimes.

(Sapa, June 2011)

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