Smoking and drinking cut cancer survival says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new study has highlighted that people who smoke and drink heavily are likely to have a lower chance of surviving cancer.

Although many studies have looked at the effects of lifestyle on the risk of getting cancer, only a few have looked at the effect of smoking and drinking on the outcome of a person?s disease.

The researchers from South Korea looked at the medical records of 14,578 male cancer patients in a nine year study.

They found that smoking prior to diagnosis reduced survival chances for all cancers. This supports the findings of several other studies that suggest tobacco use can cause tumours to grow more aggressively.

They added that there was some evidence that smokers were less likely to attend routine screening, and that the disease could therefore be further advanced and less treatable by the time of diagnosis.

Men who used alcohol heavily were more likely to die from head, neck and liver cancers, with the chances of survival decreasing in proportion to increasing levels of alcohol consumed.

Heavy alcohol use may make tumours grow more aggressively or could make patients less likely to comply with treatment, the study concluded.

"Our findings suggest that groups at high risk of cancer need to be educated continually to improve their health behaviours -- not only to prevent cancer, but also to improve prognosis," said the Goyang National Cancer Centre research team.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.