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Never too late to quit

Researchers are giving smokers a very good reason to quit, following results of a study that found the longer people had stopped smoking, the better their chances of avoiding oesophageal cancer regardless of how long and how much they smoked.

Based at the Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre, Dr David Whiteman from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) said the finding sends a positive message to smokers and hopes it will motivate them to act.

“Our results showed for every 10 years that people had permanently ceased smoking, they could reduce their risk by almost 20% for all oesophageal cancer types compared to current smokers,” Dr Whiteman said.

“This means it’s never too late to quit.”

The three-year population study involved over 2,600 Australians (1,102 patients and 1,580 controls) and was led by QIMR researchers, in collaboration with doctors at more than 40 hospitals across the nation.

There are three sub-types of oesophageal cancer: oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC), gastro-oesophageal junction adenocarcinoma (GOJAC) and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).

Dr Whiteman added that his team was particularly interested in understanding why cases of OAC have been on the rise in Western populations during a period when overall smoking prevalence has declined..

The research team found that long-term smoking was associated with all three sub-types, while quantity was only associated with GOJAC and OSCC.