Smokers are probably told to quit smoking every time they read an article about nicotine or walk into the physician’s office. Here is another way of looking at it. A new study has found that cancer patients who keep smoking actually feel far more pain than cancer patients who do not smoke.
A cancer diagnosis is not the death sentence it once was, and therapy has improved in leaps and bounds over the past two decades alone. Smokers diagnosed with cancer may keep lighting up to relax or, in a way, kind of throw in the towel. But quitting could be the ticket to saving your life or at least improving your quality of life. And to get smokers started in that direction, here is direct evidence that you will not be in as much pain if you toss that cigarette container in the trash.
The study is in the new issue of “Pain.” Researchers found that, for a wide range of cancer types and for cancers in stages I to IV, smoking was associated with more severe pain, as well as a worse impact on a patient’s daily life.
The researchers believe that it’s important to explore smoking and pain in greater detail in a range of cancer patients to help illustrate further benefits of smoking cessation. The theory was that cancer patients who smoked would report greater pain, pain interference, and pain-related distress than non-smokers or former smokers.
They looked at 224 patients with a range of different cancers. In them, they found that current smokers experienced more severe pain than people who had never smoked, as well as more interference from pain in their daily lives. Among former smokers, evidence was found that suggests that quitting smoking may reduce pain over time.
The major strengths of this study are the varying types of cancer that were involved and the stages of disease. Though more research is needed (as always) to understand how nicotine relates to pain, doctors and patients should work together to aggressively try to quit the dangerous habit of smoking.
Apart from pain, quitting has been found to improve the overall treatment response and quality of life.