Cancer Patients That Continue to Smoke Suffer Greater Pain
Smoking is known to greatly contribute to a person’s risk of developing cancer and once patients are diagnosed, they are often encouraged to quit. New research from Texas A&M University adds to the reasons why smoking cessation after cancer diagnosis is extremely important – cancer patients who smoke suffer greater pain than nonsmokers.
Lead investigator Joseph W. Ditre PhD of the psychology department Texas A&M and colleagues studied 224 patients with a wide range of cancer types and stages who were about to start chemotherapy. The participants answered questions about pain severity, pain-related distress, and the degree to which interfered with daily living.
Patients who were current smokers reported more severe pain than those who never smoked. Smokers were also more distressed by their pain than nonsmokers. They also reported greater interference from pain than either former smokers or never smokers, said Dr. Ditre.
But the positive news is that if a patient is able to quit smoking, the longer they are able to stay abstinent, the less pain they experienced.
The study did not expand on the reasons why cigarette smoking contributes to pain response, however, nicotine causes a narrowing of the arteries and greatly reduces the heart and lung’s efficiency in delivering oxygen to the body. This can contribute to the development of muscular cramps. Smoking also slows healing, increases heart rate and blood pressure, and contributes to fatigue and chronic pain.
"Although more research is needed to understand the mechanisms that relate nicotine to pain, physicians should aggressively promote smoking cessation among cancer patients,” writes Lori A. Bastian of Duke University in an editorial that accompanies the study in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pain. “Preliminary findings suggest that smoking cessation will improve the overall treatment response and quality of life."
"Associations between pain and current smoking status among cancer patients" by Joseph W. Ditre, Brian D. Gonzalez, Vani N. Simmons, Leigh Anne Faul, Thomas H. Brandon, and Paul B. Jacobsen (DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.09.001).
"Pain and smoking among cancer patients: The relationship is complex but the clinical implication is clear" by Lori Bastian (DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.10.023).
PAIN, Volume 152, Issue 1 (January 2011) published by Elsevier.