Heavy Smoking may Increase Risks of Breast Cancer

January 30, 2011 in Health by Ponti Carlo Aranda

New study has discovered that women who are heavy smokers most especially those on their childbearing years could slightly increase their risks to develop breast cancer including those without any history of pregnancy.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School Researchers in Boston detected that the development of breast cancer among younger women has a strong connection to heavy cigarette smoking.

Scientists procured the medical records of 111,140 women who were known to be smokers for at least 3 decades and 36,017 women who were considered to be second-hand smokers for 24 years and above. The records came from the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976.

When the results were speculated, they discovered that 8,700 of those women acquired breast cancer. According to author Karin Michels, pre-menopausal heavy smokers escalated their risks to malignant breast cancer by 6%. Nevertheless with regards to the second-hand smokers whether they were still children or already adults, they didn’t seem to find any evidence linking to an increased risk of breast cancer. The same goes to those women who are considered to be light and moderate smokers.

Michels has confirmed that smoking is not included in the top lists of those factors known to cause breast cancer. Although it is factual that smoking can trigger many forms of carcinomas, breast cancer may not be included in the list.

According to Archives of Internal Medicine journal, smoking will only be considered to be a strong agent to develop breast cancer if: an individual started smoking before reaching the age of 18, using at least 25 sticks in one day or those individuals who have been smoking for 35 years and above.

Cancer can be triggered by estrogen and it has been hypothesized that smoking can suppress the production of the hormone. This theory is also analogous to a previous study about how estrogen levels can plummet significantly after menopause, hence, decreasing the risk of acquiring breast cancer.

However, Michels explained that postmenopausal women are also at risk of developing cardiovascular disorders. This verifies that smoking is still discouraged during that period.

Dr. Mary B. Daly, director of cancer prevention and control at Fox Chase Cancer Center was impressed about the study due to the fact that they gathered a huge number of participants and for analyzing the study very well even though no conclusions have yet been made.

Daly noted that breast cancer is more prone to women who haven’t experienced a full-term pregnancy since they are more sensitive to carcinogens. Therefore, smoking is known to be more perilous for them compared to those who already gave birth.

Daly was again impressed to the fact that even though smoking is not one of the strong factors to trigger breast cancer, it still does not change anything with regards to how hazardous it is to our body.

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