Smoking reduction can lower lung cancer risk
Even if they can’t quit, heavy smokers can decrease their risk of lung cancer if they cut down the number of cigarettes they smoke per day, investigators report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Nina S. Godtfredsen, from Hvidovre Hospital, and her associates in Denmark conducted a population-based study among 19,714 subjects who were followed for up to 31 years.
The participants who reduced their smoking from 20 to 10 cigarettes per day experienced a 27 percent reduced risk for lung cancer compared with heavy smokers who didn’t change their consumption.
Among subjects who were light smokers (average 9 cigarettes per day) throughout the study, the risk was reduced by 56 percent compared with heavy smokers, while those who quit reduced their risk by 50 percent.
For comparison, the risk among those who never smoked was 91 percent less than among heavy smokers.
Clearly, smoking cessation is the best way to avoid harm from tobacco, Drs. Lawrence J. Dacey and David W. Johnstone, from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, point out in a related editorial.
“Nonetheless,” they write, “because only a minority of smokers are able to quit smoking completely, it is important to inform them that the more they can reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, the more they will decrease their risk of lung cancer.”
The results of a second Journal study suggest that a diet high in plant-based estrogen-like compounds—phytoestrogens—is associated with a lower risk of lung cancer, in both nonsmokers and smokers.
Dr. Margaret R. Spitz and colleagues at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston compared 1674 patients with lung cancer and 1735 matched healthy “control” subjects.
Food questionnaires were used to assess their intake of several classes of phytoestrogens.
Patients with lung cancer tended to consume lower amounts of phytoestrogens than controls, with men appearing to benefit more from phytoestrogen intake than did women in terms of reducing the risk of lung cancer.
The protective effect of phytoestrogens was strongest for people who had never smoked, although current smokers also appeared to benefit. Protective effects were not statistically significant in previous smokers.
“Patients should be informed that they may further reduce their risk of developing cancer by adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,” Dacey and Johnstone remark in their editorial.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, September 28, 2005.
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