Smoking Reduces Your Ability to Fight Deadly Skin Cancer

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Yes, researchers are still discovering more ways that smoking isn’t healthy. A new study published in Cancer Research suggests that people with melanoma — a dangerous type of skin cancer — are 40 percent less likely to survive if they’ve been a smoker within the past 10 years or so.

According to researchers from the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, who conducted the study, smoking has a detrimental effect on the body’s immune system, reducing its ability to fight against malignant melanoma. In fact, the study participants with the highest levels of smoking-induced immune system damage were almost five times more likely to die of their melanoma than people in the study who had never smoked.

Smoking is well-known to harm nearly every organ in the body, but the precise way in which puffing disrupts immune system function isn’t fully understood. Lead study author Julia Newton-Bishop, a professor of dermatology at the University of Leeds, likens it to an orchestra: Smoking may allow the musicians (parts of the immune system) to keep playing (function), but in a more disorganized way. This can make it more difficult for your immune system to mount an attack on the malignant cells.

If you’re a smoker who’s been diagnosed with skin cancer, check out our “How to Quit Smoking” guide, and talk to your doctor ASAP about all the particulars.