Breast cancer is very uncommon in younger women. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in 227 30-year-old women will develop breast cancer before age 40 that s only about a half of a percent. However, according to a new study, smoking may be associated with an increased risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer at a younger age (E-receptor positive breast cancer is the most common type).
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center led by Dr. Christopher Li looked at data from 800 women in Seattle, ages 20 to 44 who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2004 and 2010. They compared these women to 938 cancer-free women. They found that smoking at any point was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to never smokers. Smoking at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 10 years was associated with a 60 percent increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer compared to lighter smokers. No association was found between smoking and triple-negative breast cancer a more aggressive but much less common subtype.
ACSH advisor Dr. Geoffrey Kabat, an epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, had this to say: We know smoking is bad for you and the earlier you smoke and the more often you smoke the worse off you re going to be in terms of many outcomes, but the role of smoking in breast cancer is not clear. There may be something going on and it may be a modest effect in some subgroups.
ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan adds, This is one of the first studies to suggest an association between breast cancer in younger women and cigarette smoking. Although that association is unclear at this point, it does not seem that this new finding will deter smokers from continuing to smoke. Prior studies have not found a link between smoking and breast cancer, but with all the other diseases, cancers, etc. caused by smoking, this study s impact is not so important.