Recent research has shown that smoking early in life might increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer. The researchers, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston discovered that breast cancer in pre-menopausal women was closely related to smoking more cigarettes over a longer time.
The research was conducted using data that was collected by the Nurses’ Health Study, which was started in 1976 with U.S. National Institutes of Health funding. Of the 111,140 women medical records studied over 30 years who were active cigarette smokers and 36.017 women over 24 years for secondhand smoke. Around 8,700 women in the study went on to develop breast cancer, and the heavy pre-menopausal smokers obtained a 6% higher malignancy rate.
The senior study author, cancer epidemiologist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Karin Michels said, “I think we confirmed the fact that smoking is not an important risk for breast cancer. Obviously, smoking is a very important carcinogen, and most cancers are affected by smoking. Breast cancer is probably less affected.”
No increase in the risk of breast cancer was found for the secondhand smokers, but the authors reported that determining the amount of exposure is difficult study. Those who were light or moderate cigarette smokers did not seem to have a raised risk of breast cancer either. The women found to be at most risk of breast cancer were those who started smoking before they turned 18 and smoked at least 25 cigarettes a day or smoked for more than 35 years.