Change in our bodies from smoking is consistent and ongoing, although the speedier results from quitting are more encouraging.
Smoking is associated with lung, bladder, head, neck and cervical cancers amongst others but what about skin cancer. Your skin cells are part of your body and have a fair chance of being damaged by carcinogenic agents.
The clearest connection is with squamous cell carcinoma, a relatively common, yet serious form of skin cancer. Research, such as a study in The Netherlands in 2000 has consistently shown a causal link, with smokers three times more likely to be affected.
The better news is that as with other cancers, the research demonstrated that giving up smoking can halve the risk. A shrewd move for squamous cell carcinoma, along with the outcome from other skin cancers.
The Wider Picture
There have been studies which show that smokers have a reduced risk for basal cell carcinoma to a small degree and melanoma to a greater extent. An indirect effect of nicotene, although this research needs to be treated with caution.
Behavioural variations influence results. We know for example that non smokers undergo a higher rate of skin checks, so lesions are more likely to be found.
A protective effect from smoking in any event appears to be mainly for men, rather than women and is outweighed by other factors. A 2019 Cancer Research UK study provided a more rational view.
Melanoma patients with a history of smoking are on average 40 per cent less likely to survive skin cancer. Damage to cells within the immune system from smoking is believed to be the underlying reason.
This will impinge on recovery from a range of skin cancers, which many of us will see and the causal link with rarer types is not yet known.
Damage to the immune system and wider DNA damage causing cancer are prime outcomes of smoking, along with lung and heart disease. There is no health upside and a fair number of additional issues which result from smoking.
Arteries are constricted, reducing blood flow and bringing healing complications. If skin cancer, or any surgery is required, wound breakdown, localized tissue death and infection rates are higher amongst smokers.
The reality is that many of us will have skin cancer, or other illnesses during our lifetime. Inhibiting the body’s ability to fight them, or recover from them can only have one result, poorer outcomes.
We could add that tobacco smoke contains thousands of substances which damage the skin, that smoking is associated with premature skin ageing.
A non smoker sees more nutrients and oxygen reach their skin, so giving up can reverse the process. At the same time, this protects from higher incidences of lupus, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Even common issues such as acne, or skin inflammation can be harder to treat in smokers, let alone skin cancer. We are here to offer skin cancer treatment to all our patients but if you never start, or quit smoking, this will help.