The Worst Thing about Skin Damage and Smoking
A new study by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology) contains findings on the worst thing when it comes to skin damage and smoking. So, read on because we’re here to tell you about it, in exacting detail.
The study was large.
The number of people who participated in the study were 18,828 caucasian Queenslanders, ages 40-69, who had never received a diagnosis of skin cancer. The study participants included 10% current smokers, 35% former smokers and 55% who had never smoked at all. The researchers studied how many cancers the participants developed over a period of about three years. The study began in 2010 and goes on for five more years. It is Australia’s biggest and longest skin cancer study to date.
The goal of the study is to gain an understanding of the relationship between environmental risk factors on a genetic level and the personal susceptibility that causes a patient to develop skin cancer.
What is sqamous cell carcinoma (SCC)? To over simplify the definition, cancer means uncontrolled cell growth that happens when DNA sustains damage from a source, like sun damage or smoking. People can also inherit the risk for cancer.
SCC is a type of skin cancer that begins in the thin, flat, fish scale-like cells in the outer layer of the skin. If left untreated, skin cancer cells can spread to other areas of the body by a process doctors call metastasis.
SCC presents as thick, scaly patches of skin that will bleed if bumped or scraped. They sometimes look like warts. Most often they appear as open sores, surrounded by an elevated rim and notable for a hard outer layer, or crust.
Treatment for advanced skin cancers usually means surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy combined.
Is SCC a deadly form of cancer? SCC is not as lethal as melanoma but SCC is far more common. Just because it is not a melanoma does not mean it’s not a serious form of cancer. If you notice warning signs of SCC, see a doctor immediately.
SCC can burrow into the skin. The open sores are disfiguring and painful.
What did the study say about SCC and smoking? The study found that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma than are non-smokers. The researchers said that the risk was particularly strong among study participants who currently smoke and was not affected by how long they had smoked or how heavily they imbibed. The risk was greater for current smokers than it was for those who had never smoked or who had quit.
The study’s Professor David Whiteman said that researchers still don’t understand how smoking causes SCC but the study’s evidence indicates that former smokers reduce their risk to the same level as those who have never smoked.
In contrast to the findings about smokers and SCC in this study, the researchers found no evidence that smokers had a higher risk of basal cell carcinoma.
How prevalent is skin cancer in Australia?
Two out of three Australians will receive a skin cancer diagnosis by the time they reach age 70.
Each year, doctors treat more than 750,000 Australians for non-melanoma skin cancer.
Men have almost double the non-melanoma skin cancer rate as women.
Every year, 80% of all new cancer diagnoses in Australia are skin cancer. That’s one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
In 2014, 600 Australians died from non-melanoma skin cancer and 1467 from melanoma skin cancer.
The five-year rate for surviving non-melanoma skin cancer for Australian males is 68% and 75% for Australian women.
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