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Women Smokers Have Higher Risk of Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

By HERWriter
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women who smoke are at greater risk of getting squamous cell skin cancer Hemera/Thinkstock

Women who smoke have another health risk to be concerned about.

A recent study has found that women smokers are more at risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer.

In fact, it was found that they had three times the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer compared to non-smokers.

The research was performed at Moffitt’s Cancer Center based on a study of 698 patients and was published in a 2012 issue of Cancer Causes Control.

The study group consisted of 380 patients who had skin cancer and 315 control patients (no history of skin cancer). Of the 380 with skin cancer, 215 had BCC (basal cell cancer) and 165 had SCC (squamous cell cancer).

All the participants completed questionnaires regarding their present and past smoking history. They were asked how many cigarettes they smoked a day, when those who used to smoke stopped, along with questions about other risk factors.

The results were viewed in terms of whether smoking history influenced the development of skin cancer overall, and the occurrence in men and women separately.

According to Sciencedaily.com, researchers concluded that “cigarette smoking was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer, and the risk increased with increasing dose (cigarettes per day) and number of years smoked.”

Males who smoked at least 20 packs of cigarettes a year had a slight non-significant risk of developing BCC and SCC.

Women who smoked 20 packs or more a year had no increase in BCC, however they had a three fold increase risk of developing SCC.

Researchers are not sure why women smokers would be more likely to develop squamous cell cancer than men.

They hypothesize that since female smokers have a higher risk of developing lung cancer that perhaps women have overly active enzyme activity that causes them to metabolize more nicotine than men.

Researchers also suggested it was possible that estrogen may play a role in this enzyme’s regulation.

Medical News Today also reported that researchers are not sure why men overall develop skin cancer more often than women though they believe it may be due to excess sun exposure. They suggested that men might not be as careful as women in applying sunscreen.

"Further study is needed to shed more light on the sex-based differences and the role of smoking in non-melanoma skin cancers," concluded Dana E. Rollison, the lead researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Care Center.


Smoking Raises Risk Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin In Women. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

Smoking Is Strongly Associated With Squamous Cell Carcinoma Among Women. ScienceDaily, 11 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

Rollison, Dana E., et al. Case–control study of smoking and non-melanoma skin cancer. Cancer Causes and Control, 2012, Volume 23, Number 2, Pages 245-254
Abstract: http://www.springerlink.com/content/9783444k55722502

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and
quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments


Very good article. Smoking is such a terrible habit that is so hard for so many to break. Cancer is the almost inevitable end point for many. Thanks for spreading the word.
Marielaina Perrone DDS
Family Dentist Henderson Nevada

October 22, 2012 - 5:19pm
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