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Risk of Breast Cancer Higher among Smoking Women, Study Shows

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January 26, 2011|11:24 am

A recent study shows that women who smoke heavily are at a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer.

Until recently, smoking was known to cause lung cancer and many other types of cancers including of the throat and mouth, according to the National Cancer Institute. Approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.

But a detailed study in the medical journal Archives Internal Medicine this week revealed a connection between breast cancer and cigarette smoking, which had not been confirmed before. This is one of the most detailed studies which also includes information from the Nurses' Health Study, conducted on more than 111,000 women who were monitored for heavy smoking from 1976 to 2006. Scientists also examined the medical records of more than 36,000 women over 24 years for secondhand smoke exposure. The study showed that the chance of breast cancer in the women was increased by six percent when they smoked heavily.

According to Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who co-authored the recent report, the chances of breast cancer in a woman who smokes one pack a day before her menopausal years were increased from 1 in 8 to about 1 in 7.5.

"On its own, the impact of smoking on breast cancer is not major, but this adds to the many other damaging effects of tobacco," Willett noted.

The authors found that light and moderate smoking, and secondhand smoke exposure in childhood or adulthood did not seem to increase breast cancer risk.

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