Female smokers increase colon cancer risk

By: Alicia Gentile Email
By: Alicia Gentile Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A new study reveals female smokers have a higher risk of colon cancer. Every year 150,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer and 50,000 die from it.

New data published in The American Association for Cancer Research reports women who smoke just a few cigarettes can have a higher risk of getting colon cancer than a male who smokes heavily.

Susan Cassidy stopped smoking over 25 years ago after her grandfather passed away from colon cancer.

"I figured if there was cancer in my family that I wanted to be around for a long time and I wanted to have a family," says Cassidy.

Dr. Brent Prosser, a Gastroenterologist finds the study interesting. The study took a registry of 600,000 people and followed them for 14 years. Out of that 600,000 there were 4,000 cases of colon cancer. The study was conducted in Norway, but Dr. Prosser says if the study was done in the U.S. the number of those diagnosed would be significantly higher.

“30 to 40,000 people as opposed to just 4, 000," said Dr. Prosser.

And the risk of colon cancer for women who smoke was twice as high as men.

“The conclusion of that would be for women cigarette smokers for whatever reason brings a much higher risk of colon cancer than it does for men and that there would no safe amount of cigarette smoking for women," said Dr. Prosser.

However, Dr. Prosser says it is hard to prove nicotine and smoking are the sole cause of the increased colon cancer risk for females.

“It may be that people who smoke have other unhealthy lifestyles that lead them to colon cancer," said Dr. Prosser.

After Cassidy lost her grandfather she didn't want to take any chances with her health and recommends to anyone who smokes to kick the habit.

“So if there is any way to prevent it or extend your life to not have it- do it," said Cassidy.

Dr. Prosser of Grand Junction Gastroenterology says colonoscopy screenings should begin at age 50 and if you have symptoms or a family history you should consider going sooner or by the age of 40.

If you want to quit smoking, The DC Stop Smoking Center, in Grand Junction has a program to help you quit.


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