October 7th, 2009

Smoking May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer


Women who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their life have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to the results of a study published in The Breast Journal.[1]

The American Cancer Society estimates that one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. Due to the prevalence of breast cancer in the United States, researchers continue to evaluate ways to reduce its incidence, as the best “treatment” for cancer is preventing its occurrence. Many lifestyle factors—such as smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption—have been linked to an increased incidence of cancer. Research is ongoing to determine ways in which individuals can modify lifestyle factors to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

A case control study involved 8,097 patients—1,225 women who developed breast cancer and 6,872 who did not in the first year after an initial visit to the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic between 1993 and 2003. The women completed surveys regarding personal lifestyle habits and were considered smokers if they had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.

The results indicated that women who were former or current smokers had a 25% increased risk of developing breast cancer, and this was considered statistically significant. The researchers concluded that “a personal history of smoking is predictive of breast cancer diagnosis.”


[1] Croghan IT, Pruthi S, Hays JT, et al. The role of smoking in breast cancer development: An analysis of a Mayo Clinic cohort. The Breast Journal. 2009; 15: 489-495.

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