Bad news for skinny smokers
Risk of getting lung cancer higher than that for fatter smokers, non-smokers: Study
By Grace Chua
SKINNY smokers, beware. Thinner smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer than their fatter counterparts, researchers found in a survey here.
And compared with slender non-smokers, slim people who light up are 11 times more likely to contract the disease.
But the study's lead author, National University of Singapore epidemiologist Koh Woon Puay, emphasised that those who smoke are still more likely to contract lung cancer overall than those who do not. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men here, and the third most common in women.
The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer in January, was part of the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which surveyed 63,257 middle- aged and elderly Chinese Singaporeans from 1993 onwards. It examined the relationship between smokers' body mass index (BMI) - a measure of obesity - and their chances of lung cancer. Normally, a higher BMI is a red flag for many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer, Dr Koh explained.
But when it comes to puffing on cigarettes, the reverse is true. Pack-a-day smokers with a BMI of at least 28 were six times as likely to get lung cancer as equally heavy people who had never lit up.
But thinner pack-a-day smokers, who had a BMI of less than 20, were 11 times as likely to get the disease as non-smokers of a similar weight and BMI.