Smoking, Drinking Linked to Multiple Cancer Effects

Smoking linked to colorectal cancer; drinking before/after head, neck cancer linked to death

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term cigarette smoking is linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer, and alcohol consumption before or after diagnosis of head or neck cancer reduces the chance of survival, according to two studies in the December Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Lindsay M. Hannan, of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 184,000 people who were followed from 1992 to 2005. Compared to lifelong nonsmokers, current and former smokers had a higher incidence of colorectal cancer (hazard ratios, 1.27 and 1.23, respectively), even after controlling for screening and numerous risk factors. Former smokers' risk diminished with greater time since cessation.

Susan T. Mayne, Ph.D., of the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed data from 264 survivors of early-stage head and neck cancer, who were followed for an average of 4.2 years. Those who smoked before diagnosis had a higher risk of dying. Alcohol consumption beforehand also had a dose-dependent association with mortality risk. Drinking after the diagnosis also significantly increased the risk, and continued smoking was associated with higher risk, though not statistically significant.

"Patients with early-stage head and neck cancer are routinely advised to stop smoking; our results from this prospective study indicate that survivorship care for early-stage head and neck cancer patients should also include aggressive alcohol cessation efforts. Effective smoking and alcohol interventions will not only prevent second primary tumors but are also expected to improve overall survival in these patients," Mayne and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Hannan
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Abstract - Mayne
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