The link between breast cancer risk and tobacco use is controversial . Some studies suggest an increased breast cancer risk with smoking, while other studies report no link between smoking and breast cancer risk. However, recent studies appear to suggest that smoking can increase breast cancer risk and that nicotine can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells in cell cuture systems. Two more recent studies also suggest a possible link between smoking and breast cancer.
In one new breast cancer study , researchers analyzed the associations between smoking status (any tobacco use versus never tobacco use) and breast cancer presentation. The results of this analysis showed that
The average age at diagnosis was 55 years for patients who had smoked at any time in their lives and 56 years for non-smokers; however, current smokers were diagnosed with breast cancer at an average age of 52 years.
The chances of developing breast cancer before 55 years of age was increased by about 20% in Caucasian subjects who smoked, but was not increased in African American subjects who smoked.
Smokers in this study were less likely to undergo breast-conserving treatments, though the reasons for this remained unknown.
In a second breast cancer study presented at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Radium Society, researchers investigated the impact of smoking on breast cancer recurrence. For this study, the breast cancer researchers analyzed data from nearly 800 smokers who had developed breast cancer and received breast-conserving therapy. The investigators reported that
Smokers were at an increased risk for developing a second cancer within 15 years (25% risk) compared to non-smokers (19% risk).
Smokers were also more likely (13% risk) to develop breast cancer in the contralateral breast compared to non-smokers (8% risk).
These two new studies add to the growing amount of evidence suggesting that smoking might increase breast cancer risk. These new breast cancer research studies indicate that smoking might be associated with a younger age at breast cancer diagnosis and might be associated with increased risk for breast cancer recurrence. Fortunately, smoking is a modifiable breast cancer risk factor. Choosing not to smoke might help decrease one's risk for breast cancer in addition to having a number of other health benefits.