MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – With March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, concerns have risen about smoking and secondhand smoke exposure that can lead to cancer.
"Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Carolina behind lung cancer," American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and former SC Tobacco-Free Collaborative board member Nancy Cheney said. "We have a great opportunity to reduce colon cancer diagnoses and death in our state by reducing tobacco use."
According to the South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative most people associate smoking with cancers of the lungs, mouth and esophagus. Other deadly links to colon and rectal cancers are:
• Those who have smoked for 40 years or longer, or who did not quit before age 40, have a 30% to 50% increased risk of developing colon or rectal cancer. The news is particularly bad for women who smoke. Even if they smoke less than men, research shows that they are more likely to contract colon cancer.
• Smokers with a history of heavy, long-term tobacco use are also diagnosed with cancer of the colon at significantly younger ages than non-smokers.
• This same research shows that individuals with colon cancer who never smoked, but who were exposed to secondhand smoke were diagnosed at a significantly younger age compared with those who were never exposed to secondhand smoke.
• Smokers diagnosed with colorectal cancer are also more likely to die from the disease than non-smokers. A new study by the American Cancer Society reveals that people who smoked before their colon cancer diagnosis had more than twice the risk of death from all causes.
According to the SC Tobacco Free Collaborative the longer someone goes without smoking, the lower their risk of colon cancer. Smoking after a cancer diagnosis does increase the risk of treatment complications, poor wound healing, and risk of cancer recurrence.
For more information on how to quit contact 1-800-QUITNOW for help.