Quitting Smoking Increases Survival in Nurses Who Beat Cancer

A study observed “considerable survival benefits” among female nurses who survived cancer and quit smoking. The researchers collected 46,334 survey responses from the Danish Nurse Cohort, which includes female nurses. Women were invited to respond in 1993, 1999, and 2009, and followed through 2016 for hospitalization, cause of death, and migration using nationwide registries. Propensity score matched logistic regression models were used to calculate odds for smoking cessation by cancer diagnosis; Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine survival by postdiagnosis smoking cessation. A total of 7,841 nurses (mean [SD] age, 56.7 [7.2] years) were smokers at baseline and survived to take part in the follow-up survey; 545 of these women were diagnosed with cancer and matched 1:2 with 1,090 non-cancer controls. Women diagnosed with cancer, compared to those who did not receive a cancer diagnosis, were significantly more likely to quit (odds ratio, 1.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 1.61). Cancer survivors who stopped smoking, compared to those who continued, had a significantly lower risk for mortality (hazard ratio, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.91). The study was published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing. “The results suggest considerable survival benefits from smoking cessation in cancer surviving female nurses, and that the time surrounding cancer diagnosis may serve as a teachable moment for smoking cessation. However, due to substantial methodological limitations embedded in the study, careful interpretation of the presented results is warranted,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies are needed to demonstrate the effects of diagnosis on smoking cessation as well as the effects of smoking cessation on survival in female cancer populations.”

Smoking Among Nurses: How Common Is It?

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing surveyed registered nurses to learn more about the habit in this population. “Smoking amongst nurses is a barrier to the delivery of patient smoking cessation interventions. Studies on the smoking behaviour of nurses have lagged behind government surveys on smoking prevalence in the general population,” the authors of this study explained. Between July and August 2007, 3,200 nurses in a single major health service network in Australia received a self-administered questionnaire. About a third of nurses (n=1,029) responded, of whom 11% (n=113) were current smokers. Current smokers were more likely to be divorced or separated and to smoke with family and friends. Nurses in the psychiatry and emergency departments were more likely to be smokers. Of those who smoked, 45% said they wanted to stop, and 89% reported having trying to quit previously; however, only half had been given help or advice on quitting. Withdrawal symptoms—including stress, weight gain, and anxiety—were the most significant barriers to quitting. Still, the authors wrote that nurses were less likely than the general population to be smokers. They called for targeted strategies to help nurses in smoking cessation.