(CBS) Like millions of Americans struggling with smoking, Tyson Heilhecker just couldn't quit. One day, he stared at the pouring rain he'd have to walk through to buy another pack of cigarettes. "Something at that point, after trying a few other times, kind of snapped," he remembers.
He finally kicked a habit he had started at age 13. But he admits, "It was actually quite difficult for me to stop smoking."
Smoking can lead to lung cancer and heart disease. That's well known. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard researcher Dr. Stacey Kenfield reports that "prostate cancer is now another disease that's associated with smoking."
She led a review of medical records of more than 5,000 prostate cancer patients. "Current smokers had a 61 percent increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence, and a 61 percent increased risk of prostate cancer mortality," she says. They also were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. And they had a higher death risk overall.
Kenfield and her colleagues say it's plausible that smoking has a direct effect on the progression of prostate cancer by promoting tumor growth, or increasing testosterone levels involved in the development of the disease.
More study is needed. In the meantime, she says, "The good news is that quitting smoking is beneficial both for reducing prostate cancer recurrence and prostate cancer specific mortality." In this study, men who had quit smoking at least 10 years prior to their prostate cancer diagnosis had risks of recurrence and mortality similar to men who never smoked.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation has more on prostate cancer.