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Skin Cancer, Immunity, and Smoking: Interesting Bedfellows!

  • Posted on: Jul 15 2019
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Skin Cancer and Mohs Surgery New York, NY Around this time of year, more people have a spark of curiosity and concern about skin cancer risks. When we talk about the various types of skin cancer, including melanoma, it is sun exposure that usually gets all the attention (or blame). What we need to also bring up is that the body’s natural immune response also plays a role in prognosis after a skin cancer diagnosis.

A study found in Cancer Research has pointed out that a smoker diagnosed with melanoma has a higher likelihood of mortality than one who has never smoked. In fact, data obtained from Cancer Research UK puts that increased likelihood at 40 percent. How does smoking increase this risk? By affecting immunity.

The study in Cancer Research discovered a strong enough correlation between smoking and diminished immunity that researchers considered the effect of limited disease-fighting capacity in smokers. More than 700 patients with melanoma were observed in this study and, while researchers were able to conclude that smoking diminished these patients’ immunity, they could not identify exactly which chemical in cigarettes might be responsible for the particular difficulty in fighting melanoma.

As is necessary in studies, the researchers who authored the project were careful to state that they could not confirm with 100 percent certainty that the decreased melanoma survival rate among smokers did not also relate to other factors. However, they could confidently report clear evidence confirming that smokers demonstrated a poor immune response to melanoma compared to nonsmokers. To that end, the authors concluded that smokers with melanoma should strongly consider quitting.

Take a Proactive Approach Toward Skin Cancer

We now know that skin cancer prevention extends beyond staying out of the sun during peak hours of daylight. Experts recommend that consumers avoid tanning beds, that a healthy diet including an abundance of leafy greens is consumed, and that routine skin cancer screenings take place on a yearly basis.

Dr. Quintana is the Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation, an organization dedicated to education, prevention, and early detection of all skin cancers. Her wealth of experience assists our patients in managing their long-term health.

Schedule your skin cancer screening in our Manhattan office at 212.391.8600.

Posted in: Skin Cancer

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