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Both Current and Former Smokers Face Digestive and Cancer Risks

Smoking Risks Continue Even After Cessation

Two separate studies released this week at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 76th Annual Scientific Meeting find that smokers face compromised digestive function and increased risk of colon cancer, even after they quit smoking.

In the first study entitled “Cigarette Smoking Impairs Pancreatic Duct Cell Function,” researchers led by Vivek Kadiyala MD at the Center for Pancreatic Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital assessed biological data on a total of 131 subjects, 74 whom smoked. All volunteers underwent secretin-stimulated endoscopic pancreatic function testing (ePFT), which is a non-invasive test of pancreatic dysfunction.

More on EmaxHealth.com: Lung Cancer Risk Higher Among Smoking Women

Exposure to cigarette smoking was found to be associated with an abnormal ePFT result. The risk of pancreatic duct cell dysfunction in both current and former smokers was found to be 56.78%, compared to just 26.32 percent in non-smokers. The ductal cells of the pancreas deliver enzymes into the duodenum which helps to digest food. They also secrete bicarbonate that neutralizes stomach acidity.

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Dr. Kadiyala said, “The findings underscore the value that early smoking cessation may have for patients with chronic pancreatitis and as a result healthcare providers should advise patients to quit smoking as part of their overall treatment plan.”

More on EmaxHealth.com: Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Colorectal Cancer

The second study, conducted at the University of Connecticut, finds that smokers, especially women, had an increased risk of advanced pre-cancerous tissue changes, resulting in a greater risk of colorectal cancer. The researchers, led by Joseph C. Anderson, MD, FACG, examined 2428 male and female patients over the age of 45 who had quit smoking. Each underwent a screening colonoscopy.

"The risk of advanced neoplasia was significantly elevated for women and men whether they were current smokers and/ or former smokers who quit within five years," said Dr. Anderson. "The risk was elevated for female smokers who quit six to ten years prior to screening but not for male smokers" indicating that the risk of smoking persist longer in women than in men.

The ACG recommends that smoking be included as a risk factor that should be considered when screening for colorectal cancer. "If smoking is used as a factor for determining when to begin screening, for example, we might have different parameters for men and women," noted Dr. Anderson.

Source: American College of Gastroenterology (2011, October 31). Cigarette smoking's impact lingers after quitting: Current, former smokers may face impaired pancreatic duct cell function, elevated colorectal cancer risk.