smoking and skin cancer

Cigarro by jfjwak on Flickr

If your 2012 resolution is to quit smoking, researchers have another reason to motivate you. A new study linked smoking and skin cancer in women.

Women who smoked for 20 years or more were twice as likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer than those who didn’t smoke. The second most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer forms on cells of the skin’s outermost layer and is less aggressive than melanoma.

While the study found an association between smoking and skin cancer, it did not prove a cause and effect.

Study Details

The study compared 383 patients with skin cancer to 315 people without it. Researchers collected information on how much participants smoked, when they started smoking and the number of years they smoked.

In total, 355 men and 343 women participated in the study; all participants were white, which is the group who is most at risk for skin cancer.

The more people smoked, the more likely they were to have skin cancer, said the study’s lead author Dana Rollison.

Skin Cancer & Smoking: Gender Differences

For male participants, those who smoked had a modest risk for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, but the results weren’t statistically significant, according to the study authors.

Rollinson said they aren’t sure why there was a difference between the men’s and women’s risk, but the female hormone estrogen may play a role, she said.

How Smoking Ages Your Skin

While not as serious as cancer, smoking can also cause damage that ages your skin. It can cause wrinkles, uneven skin tone, sagging and lines around the lips.

There are non-invasive procedures that can help correct some of the cosmetic problems caused by smoking. Laser skin resurfacing and facial peels remove the outer layer of skin, where the damage caused by smoking is most visible.