Does Smoking Increase the Risk of Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

In a recent study published in Cancer Causes Control researchers concluded that women with non-melanoma skin cancers were more likely to have smoked cigarettes than women without skin cancer. In the study researchers evaluated the relationship between cigarette smoking and non-melanoma skin cancers including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Smoking histories were compared between subjects diagnosed with BCC and/or SCC and controls who were screened for skin cancer but were not diagnosed nor had a history of skin cancer.
There were 689 subjects (383 with skin cancer and 315 controls and 355 men and 343 women and all were white) in the study and questions were asked about years of smoking, how many cigarettes daily, and when those who once smoked had quit as part of the assessment. Results were stratified by sex and showed that smoking was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer overall, and that the risk increased by number of cigarettes daily, total years of smoking and pack-year smoked. Associations were especially strong for SCC in women which was more than two times as likely in those who had smoked for 20 or more years compared to the controls.
Among men there were positive associations between smoking and BCC and SCC but none were statistically significant. “However, among women, smoking was not associated with BCC, while highly statistically significant associations were observed for SCC. Women with SCC were almost two times more likely to have smoked 20 years or more. Men who had BCC were significantly more likely to have smoked for at least 20 years than men without cancer. A;though the study did find an association between smoking and skin cancer it did not prove a cause and effect. More research is needed.

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