Smokers can significantly reduce their risk of dying from prostate cancer if they quit the habit, according to scientists.
New research from a team led by experts from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, has found that prostate cancer sufferers who smoke have a 61% higher chance than non-smokers of dying of the disease.
The risk of recurrence of the disease was similarly high for smokers, said the researchers, who analysed medical data of 5,300 men diagnosed with the disease between 1986 and 2006.
Men who smoked were also found to have more aggressive tumours at the time of their diagnosis. Among patients whose disease had not spread when first detected, smokers were 80% more likely than non-smokers to die.
Findings from the study - the largest of its kind to explore the link between smoking and prostate cancer - are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Study leader, Dr Stacey Kenfield, said: "We found similar results for both prostate cancer recurrence and prostate cancer mortality. These data taken together provide further support that smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer progression."
The researchers also found that the death rates among prostate cancer patients who had quit smoking for more than 10 years were similar to that for non-smokers.
The same was true for men who had quit for less than 10 years, but were previously only moderate smokers.
"These data are exciting because there are few known ways for a man to reduce his risk of dying from prostate cancer," said Professor Edward Giovannucci, another member of the Harvard team.
"For smokers, quitting can impact their risk of dying from prostate cancer. This is another reason not to smoke."