Smoking Associated To Women’s Lower Use of Cancer Screening Services

Women underuse cancer screening services, so the researchers wanted to find out if lower take up of these services might be linked to active smoking.

A new research has found that smoking is very much associated to lower use of cancer screening services by women.

The research paper was published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The use of tobacco is falling in several parts of the globe but the numbers is discouraging among women. The lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women, according to the researchers.

The data also suggested that women underuse cancer screening services, so the researchers wanted to find out if lower take up of these services might be linked to active smoking.

The survey was conducted from a group of 89,058 women who had gone through the menopause and were taking part in the nationally representative Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort (WHI-OS) study.

Among the 89,058 participants, over 53% had never smoked; 41% were ex-smokers; and 6% were active smokers, although nearly half (49.5%) had stopped smoking by the time of the last data collection.

Their health and use of cancer screening services were tracked for an average of nearly 9 years, during which time 7054 cases of breast cancer, 1600 cases of bowel cancer, and 61 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed.

Former smokers were more likely than non-smokers to regularly attend cancer screening appointments. But current smokers were significantly less likely to do so.

“Concern for personal health is the most common reason given for smoking cessation among former smokers, and may explain why this health-conscious population seeks cancer screening more frequently than never smokers,” suggested the researchers.

“On the contrary, smokers are overly optimistic about their health and consistently underestimate the magnitude of their cancer risk,” they add.

Compared with women who had never smoked, current smokers were 45% less likely to get screened for breast cancer, 47% less likely to get screened for cervical cancer, and 29% less likely to get screened for bowel cancer.

And the higher the daily tally of cigarettes smoked among both former and current smokers, the less likely were these women to use cancer screening services.

Failure to regularly attend screening appointments was also associated with more advanced disease at diagnosis, with current smokers nearly 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer, and more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with late stage bowel cancer as those who had never smoked.

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