Alcohol and smoking cessation for cancer survivors
- Maher Karam-Hage, MD
Maher Karam-Hage, MD
- UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Jennifer Minnix, PhD
Jennifer Minnix, PhD
- UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Paul M Cinciripini, PhD
Paul M Cinciripini, PhD
- UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
The number of living cancer survivors is expected to continue to rise in subsequent years, at least within the United States (US) . Compared with population growth, these increases have been attributed mostly to improved diagnostic modalities resulting in early detection of cancer and to the development of more effective treatments. This increase in survival rates highlights the importance of caring for cancer survivors.
Though smoking rates have continuously decreased over several decades, the overall smoking prevalence in the US has remained nearly constant for the past several years despite the widespread knowledge that smoking and tobacco use cause cancer as well as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and several other deadly diseases .
Unlike tobacco, the carcinogenic effects of alcohol have been scientifically established only within the last two decades. Though many alcohol users are informed about organ damage caused by alcohol and the dangers and the legal and social consequences of being intoxicated, far fewer recognize the significant cancer risk of heavy alcohol use .
There are limited data to inform the benefits of smoking and alcohol cessation that are specific to cancer survivors. However, it stands to reason that cancer survivors may attain at least similar health benefits with the adoption of healthy lifestyles, including moderate alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking. This review discusses the data regarding these topics as they relate to cancer survivors who have completed cancer-directed treatment and are in remission. Further discussion on alcohol and tobacco is covered elsewhere. (See "Cigarette smoking and other possible risk factors for lung cancer" and "Benefits and risks of smoking cessation" and "Cancer prevention", section on 'Tobacco use' and "Overview of the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption".)
Tobacco use — The data suggest that tobacco use continues to be an issue for cancer survivors, especially among younger adults. In one survey, almost 20 percent of cancer survivors reported being current smokers, with a high rate of 43 percent of cancer survivors younger than 40 years reporting current smoking .
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