Regular female smokers have a threefold higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center reported in Cancer Causes and Control. The authors said they found a slight increase in risk among regular male smokers, but a statistically insignificant one.
Dana E. Rollison and team recruited 380 patients with skin cancer and 315 controls (healthy patients with no current or past skins cancers) for their study. 215 had confirmed basal cell carcinoma and 165 had squamous cell carcinoma (both types of skin cancers).
All the 695 participants had to complete questionnaires, which included questions regarding present and past smoking status.
After making adjustments for several factors which might impact on their results, such as age, sex, and other skin cancers, the researchers found that:
- Both sexes – having ever been a smoker was not linked to basal cell carcinoma (BCC) risk
- Both sexes – having ever been a smoker significantly increased the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
- Both sexes – the heavier the smoker, the higher the risk for developing SCC was found to be (included numbers smoked per day and packs smoked per year)
- Males – men who smoked at least twenty packs per year had a slight (statistically non-significant) risk of developing BCC
- Males – men who smoked at least twenty packs per year had a slight (statistically non-significant) risk of developing SCC
- Females- women who smoked twenty packets of more per year had no increased risk of BCC
- Females – women smoking twenty or more packets per year had a threefold increased risk in developing SCC
The authors concluded:
“Cigarette smoking is more strongly associated with SCC than BCC, particularly
Although a higher percentage of males overall develop skin cancer than females, the cause is probably more due to sun exposure than smoking, the researchers believe. They are not sure why – perhaps men’s skin is more sensitive to sunlight, or maybe women are more careful about applying suncream.
Written by Christian Nordqvist