Smokers may face a more dire outcome from prostate cancer

THE QUESTION Might smoking make a difference in how a man’s health progresses after he receives a diagnosis of prostate cancer?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 5,366 men who were treated for prostate cancer. Most were in their late 60s. In the 22 years after diagnosis and treatment, the cancer had returned in 878 of them, and 1,630 had died. Men who were smokers when they learned they had prostate cancer were about 60 percent more likely to have died from the cancer or to have had a recurrence than were those who had never smoked. Smokers also were more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to have died for any reason. However, men who had quit smoking at least 10 years before their prostate cancer diagnosis had risks comparable to those who had never smoked.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Men. About one in six men in the United States develop prostate cancer, with an estimated 241,000 new cases expected in 2011. It is the most common cancer in men and the second-leading cause of male cancer deaths, after lung cancer. Nearly a fourth of U.S. men smoke, and about 270,000 deaths among men each year are attributed to cigarette smoking.

CAVEATS Some data used in the study came from the men’s responses on questionnaires.

FIND THIS STUDY June 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (

LEARN MORE ABOUT prostate cancer at Learn about how smoking causes disease at www.surgeon

Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.