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Smoking may limit immune system's ability to fight cancer, study shows

Published on 18/02/19 at 11:53am

Smoking may limit the body’s ability to fight melanoma, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Research.

The study of more than 700 melanoma patients in the north of England provides evidence to suggest that smoking may blight the immune system’s response against melanoma which may in turn reduce survival.

The report, led by researchers at the University of Leeds and funded by Cancer Research UK, found that smokers were 40% less likely to survive melanoma than patients who hadn’t smoked within a decade of being diagnosed with the disease.  

Lead author Julia Newton-Bishop, professor of dermatology at the University of Leeds, said: “The immune system is like an orchestra, with multiple pieces. This research suggests that smoking might disrupt how it works together in tune, allowing the musicians to continue playing but possibly in a more disorganised way.”

“The result is that smokers could still mount an immune response to try and destroy the melanoma, but it appears to have been less effective than in never-smokers, and smokers were less likely to survive their cancer. Based on these findings, stopping smoking should be strongly recommended for people diagnosed with melanoma.”

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Overall, these results show that smoking could limit the chances of melanoma patients' survival so it's especially important that they are given all the support possible to give up smoking for good.”

Louis Goss


Yet another argument against smoking. This kind of studies and information need to be public and spread as much as possible so people finally can realize how harmful smoking really is. Thankfully, it seems to be less and less popular with younger people but the generation of today's 40 and 50-year-olds? It is alarming how many of them are heavy smokers and what that might mean for their health in the next decade or two.

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