Half of cancer survivors have no intentions to quit smoking

Smoking image

Cancer can’t convince smokers to kick the habit

Research from the American Cancer Society and Emory University shows that approximately one in 10 cancer survivors are still smoking nine years after their diagnosis.

Shockingly, the smoking rate among American cancer survivors is 9.3%, which is about half of the 18.1% rate of American adults as a whole, with experts stressing that smoking doesn’t just increase the risk factors of certain types of cancer, but it can also make cancer treatments less effective and make the disease more likely to come back after treatment.

The ongoing study of cancer survivors research project revealed that overall, 272 of the 2,938 participants were still smoking, with 83% smoking an average of 14.7 cigarettes each day. The remaining smokers smoked about once every three days, getting through an average of 5.7 cigarettes. Half of the cancer survivors who still smoked said they had no intention of quitting.

Still smoking

The study tracks a random sample of adults across 11 states who have been diagnosed with a common type of cancer, for example, breast, prostate, bladder, uterine, melanoma, colorectal, kidney, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian and lung. The participants were diagnosed between 2000 and 2003 and were still alive during 2010 / 2011. They answered the questions based on their smoking habits within the latter years.

137 of the cancer survivors reported that they were active smokers when they were diagnosed but have quit since then. This implies that one third of the people who were smokers at diagnosis were able to quit after a nine year period. The results also show that smokers who were diagnosed with a smoking related cancer were 73% more likely to quit compared with smokers who developed other forms of cancer. The smoking rate was found to be highest in those who had bladder cancer at 17.2%, whilst 14.9% of lung cancer patients still smoked. Ovarian cancer came in third with a smoking rate of 11.6%. Interesting, the study also showed that survivors who were women, younger, less educated and had lower incomes were more likely to remain smoking.

The lowest smoking rates were discovered in colorectal cancer patients (6.8%), as well as kidney cancer survivors (7.3%) and those who had suffered from melanoma (7.6%). Older smokers were found to be more likely to say they wouldn’t quit, with researchers explaining to LA Times “they feel that the effort or difficulties in quitting (eg withdrawal symptoms) may not be worth the possible gain in greater life expectancy.”

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