Smoking is extremely harmful to the health and causes a variety of diseases. Smoking not only raises the odds of heart attacks, lung cancer , strokes but also increases your risk of a skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma ( SCC) by fifty two percent as per the results of a recent study. SCC is in fact the 2nd most common skin cancer which affects an estimated seven lakh people in the US every year.
Most of the people are aware that the harsh UV rays cause skin cancer but the fact that smoking leads to skin cancer comes as a shock to many people. Smoking is an independent and a very important risk factor. Various researches have proved that smoking doesn’t lead to basal cell carcinoma but it causes squamous cell carcinoma. SCC is an extremely common form of skin cancer that forms in the flat and thin squamous cells that make up the skin’s outer layer. According to a research , the current smokers have a higher chance of developing this cancer than the former smokers. Together BCCs and SCCs comprise almost ninety seven percent of all the different skin cancers.
Evidence for the Link between Smoking and Skin Cancer
Exactly how smoking leads to skin cancer isn’t known properly yet. It is likely that one of the three thousand chemicals present in tobacco may act as a skin cancer causing agent that is skin carcinogen either by getting absorbed into the bloodstream by the lungs or by a direct contact with the harmful smoke (This might even damage the DNA present in the skin cells). In a few animal experiments it was found that applying the cigarette smoke to the skin induced SCC or squamous cell carcinoma. Smoking may also lead to skin cancer by hampering the immune system. Patients with suppressed immune systems because of organ transplants and various other causes are much more prone to squamous cell carcinoma.
As compared to men, women are much likely to be affected by this cancer due to smoking. Females who smoke regularly have a threefold greater risk of developing skin cancer. The various researches have proved that squamous cell carcinoma is found in higher percentage in men but the main reason behind it is skin exposure and not smoking. It hasn’t been found out if men’ skin is much more sensitive to the harsh UV rays or whether women are much more concerned about their skin and hence apply a lot of sunscreen.
Listed below are some symptoms and signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma :
1) A reddish firm nodule
2) A flat sore with a very scaly crust
3) A raised area or new sore on ulcer or an old scar
4) A scaly rough patch on your lip that may develop into an open sore
5) A rough patch or red sore inside your mouth
6) A wart like sore or a raised red patch in or on the anus or on the genitals.