Smoking could directly affect how smokers’ bodies deal with the melanoma cancer cells, making them less likely to survive the disease, according to a study released on Monday by the University of Leeds.
A team led by researchers from the university analyzed the situation of more than 700 patients with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
They found that overall, smokers among these patients were 40 percent less likely to survive their disease than those who have never smoked within a decade after their diagnosis.
As the researchers dig deeper, they also observed that in a subset of 156 patients who had the most genetic indicators for immune cells, smokers were around four and a half times less likely to survive from the cancer than people who had never smoked.
“The immune system is like an orchestra, with multiple pieces. This research suggests that smoking might disrupt how it works together in tune, allowing the musicians to continue playing but possibly in a more disorganized way,” said lead author of the study Julia Newton-Bishop, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Leeds.
“The result is that smokers could still mount an immune response to try and destroy the melanoma, but it appears to have been less effective than in never-smokers, and smokers were less likely to survive their cancer,” Julia Newton-Bishop also said.
Researchers believe that smoking may have had an impact on patients’ immune system and this may have altered their ability to fight their skin cancer, as well as increasing their risk of other health issues relating to smoking.
Therefore, stopping smoking should be strongly recommended for people diagnosed with melanoma, according to the researchers.