Study Indicates Long-Term Smoking Increases Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women
An article in the October issue of Cancer Causes and Control reports that long-term smoking increases the risk of breast cancer in older postmenopausal women by as much as 40%.
Dr. Christopher I. Li from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, and colleagues considered the connection between various measures of cigarette smoking and the risk of breast cancer in women 65 to 79 years of age. This differed from earlier studies comparing those who always smoked with those who never smoked.
According to a story in Reuters Health, Dr. Li stated: "Smoking appears to confer a modest elevation in breast cancer risk. Certainly this relationship is not as strong as the relationship between smoking and lung cancer or smoking and heart disease, but breast cancer may be another disease to add to the long list of diseases associated with smoking."
The study results showed that current smoking was more strongly associated than former smoking with breast cancer. Smoking for 40 years or longer increased the risk of breast cancer by 40%. The study also indicated that beginning to smoke at a young age increased a womanâ€™s risk of breast cancer.
Li concluded that: "No single epidemiologic study stands alone, but based on recent studies there is a growing body of literature suggesting that cigarette smoking is associated with a modest risk of breast cancer."
He acknowledged, however, that additional work is â€œneeded to further characterize what aspects of smoking are particularly related to risk.â€
He added that: "Our study focused exclusively on older postmenopausal women 65-79 years of age. Thus, these results may not be generalizable to premenopausal women or to younger postmenopausal women."