Many cancer patients still smoke after diagnosis

By Alyson Fox • Published: May 28th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s been drilled into most of our heads: Smoking cigarettes causes cancer.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the message still isn’t powerful enough to put down a cigarette for about 45 million adults in the U.S.

A cancer diagnosis would surely do the trick, right? Maybe not.

According to new research published in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer, a substantial number of lung and colorectal cancer patients continue to smoke even after being diagnosed with the disease.

Investigators recorded smoking rates at the time of diagnosis and then again five months later in lung and colorectal cancer patients. At the time of diagnosis, 39 percent of lung cancer patients and 14 percent of colorectal cancer patients were smokers. Five months later, 14 percent of the lung cancer patients and 9 percent of the colorectal cancer patients were still lighting up.

While some people might not think it matters much if they continue to smoke, since they already have cancer, continuing to puff on cigarettes could put your survival at risk. Researchers say smoking can negatively affect cancer patients’ response to treatments and could increase the risk of developing a second tumor or having a recurrence.

Here are a few tips to help put your nicotine addiction to rest. First, post a no-smoking sign by your door to remind yourself and others that you are quitting. Then, seek supporters and educate yourself about the effects of smoking. Also, throw away all of your cigarettes and pick a quit day. Once you kick the habit, boost your spirits with a little exercise. Hitting the gym actually helps relieve stress and gives you a boost of feel-good endorphins.

It’s never too late to kick a bad habit. Why not make today the day?