Around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, that is 1 in 8 women, and let’s not forget about the 400 men. The majority of cases are in females over 50 years old, however, many of these cases could be preventable. The development of breast cancer is linked to: obesity, excess alcohol consumption and now smoking.
Recently many studies have published findings that reveal a clear link between long term smoking and breast cancer. This is not particularly surprising considering there are 250 harmful chemicals in tobacco and at least 69 of those are carcinogenic (cancer causing). The direct carcinogenic effect can cause DNA damage and mutations which may lead to tumour growth and therefore cancer.
A large sample of 73,388 women was taken from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II). During the 13 year study follow ups 3721 women developed breast cancer. As the majority of the cancer cases were smokers, the study concluded that those who smoked increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 24%, even former smokers had an increased risk of 13%.
Another study wished to further investigate the link between smoking and breast cancer by focusing on the subtypes of breast cancer that were more likely to develop in smokers. The study’s leader Dr Christopher Li, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, created a population based study of 960 female patients aged 20 to 40 years old, who had been diagnosed with a form of breast cancer between 2004 and 2010. 778 of the patients had been diagnosed with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer (the most common form) and 182 had been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (a less common but more aggressive form). A control group of 938 cancer free participants was also included in the study.
The research showed that current or recent smokers who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day or more for at least 10 years had a 60 % higher risk of developing oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. There was, however, no significant effect of smoking and the development of triple negative breast cancer. It is clear that there is “growing evidence that breast cancer is another health hazard associated with smoking” commented Dr Li.
Don’t think it is too late to quit. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long term health benefits. Within days to months of quitting you will experience: normalised heart rate and blood pressure, decreased carbon monoxide levels, improved circulation, improved lung function and improved sense of smell and taste.
Furthermore your risk of developing diseases and conditions such as cancer, coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels), cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supple blood to the brain), chronic bronchitis (infection of the lung’s main airways), emphysema (damage to small lung airways) and pneumonia (inflamed lungs) decrease every year you are smoke free.
It’s a no brainer. If you want to live a long and healthy life (who doesn’t?) don’t smoke!