Smoking May Cause Your Prostate Health to Go Up in Flames
When it comes to your health, the reasons to quit smoking are numerous. And research has led to a recent addition to that list.
Experts have known for decades that smokers are much more likely to develop diseases of the heart and lungs and cancer in the bladder and kidneys. More recent research now suggests that smokers are also at a greater risk than nonsmokers to develop aggressive prostate cancer that is more likely to spread and come back after treatment.
What we know about smoking and prostate health
The link between smoking tobacco and prostate cancer was shown in 2014 when researchers examined 51 studies that included information and health outcomes of more than 4 million men. This analysis found that smokers were 24 percent more likely than nonsmokers to die from prostate cancer. However, the researchers acknowledged that the risk could have been underestimated because many smokers may die from other smoking-related causes (heart disease, lung cancer) before prostate cancer is detected.
More recent research published in 2018 seems to have clarified the link between smoking and prostate cancer. Austrian researchers analyzed more than 22,000 otherwise healthy men who had recently undergone surgical treatment for prostate cancer. By studying prostate cancer patients rather than just smokers and nonsmokers, the project was able to eliminate subjects who may have already been at higher risk of death from other unrelated conditions, according to a Harvard Health Publishing article.
Ultimately, this research, which also included the analysis of six years of follow-up data on the patients who were studied, found that smokers with prostate cancer were at a whopping 89 percent higher risk of dying from the disease. The analysis also found that prostate cancer was 151 percent more likely to spread in men who smoked and 40 percent more likely to come back even after treatment.
Why there's a link
Just as there's no definitive answer on what causes prostate cancer, medical experts are unsure of why exactly smoking makes the disease deadlier and more aggressive—but there are theories.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are full of harsh chemicals and cancerous pollutants, so it's no wonder they can wreak havoc in the body in more ways than one. Some researchers believe that since many of those chemicals eventually exit the body through the urine, the toxic chemicals come into contact with the prostate as the urine leaves the body. This may potentially cause inflammation and be a contributing factor to the disease and its outcomes.
It's also completely possible that other commonly occurring unhealthy lifestyle choices that often accompany smoking—such as heavy alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise—may be the reason that smokers are at greater risk for developing and dying from prostate cancer.
Whatever the reason for the link, one detail is clear: Smoking is bad for your health. The sooner you quit, the better off you'll be. Don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor for help so you can find a smoking cessation treatment that's right for you.