Smokers and former smokers are also 40% less likely to survive 10 years after a cancer diagnosis.
Researchers have not specified how many cigarettes would impact a smokers health.
‘The immune system is like an orchestra, with multiple pieces,’ Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, lead author of the Cancer Research UK-funded study, said.
‘This research suggests that smoking might disrupt how it works together in tune.
‘This allows the musicians to continue playing but possibly in a more disorganised way.’
Less-effective immune system
Researchers in the study advise smokers drop the habit completely if they’re trying to fight skin cancer.
The results show smokers’ immune systems appear to work, but it is less effective when compared with non-smokers.
‘The result is that smokers could still mount an immune response to try and destroy the melanoma,’ Professor Newton-Bishop continued.
‘But it appears to be less effective than in never-smokers, and smokers were less likely to survive their cancer.
‘Based on these findings, stopping smoking should be strongly recommended for people diagnosed with melanoma.’
Give up smoking for good
The study looked at more than 700 melanoma patients, mainly from the north of England.
Smoking has been previously reported to have adverse effects on the immune system.
However, this study could not prove it was smoking that caused the drop in survival.
‘Overall, these results show that smoking could limit the chances of melanoma patients’ survival,’ Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said.
‘So it’s especially important that they are given all the support possible to give up smoking for good.’