Smoking is not traditionally associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but a team of researchers say that women who have smoked heavily for years may have a greater risk of developing the disease.
Damage decades in the making
Previous studies have failed to link breast cancer and smoking, although there is evidence that cigarette smoke may contain breast cancer-causing agents.
One reason for this, may be that these agents can take decades to cause damage, says study lead author Paul Terry of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, USA.
Terry and colleagues investigated the smoking habits of almost 9 000 women between the ages of 40 and 59 years. After an 11-year follow-up, over 2 500 had developed breast cancer.
Women who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 40 years or more, had a 83% higher risk of developing breast cancer, says the report published in the August edition of the International Journal of Cancer.
Women who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, but who had quit before 40 years, had a 22% higher risk of breast cancer.
More study data needed
The researchers conclude that although the study findings suggest a long-term smoking habit and the risk of breast cancer may be linked, more research is needed. – (Health24)
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