Previously published on Factoidz.com
Some studies have shown that smoking early in a woman’s life, before having children and before menopause, increases her risk of developing breast cancer. Women who began smoking before their first child have an 18 to 20 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer. However, women who began smoking in the time period after the birth of their first child and before the onset of menopause have a 4 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Aside from lung cancer, breast cancer is the biggest cancer risk in women. Breast cancer ranks number 2 and lung cancer ranks number 1 as the leading cause of deaths in women in the United States. Many researchers believe that a woman’s risk of breast cancer can be related to a lifetime of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Different studies may suggest different statistics because it is difficult to measure the level of smoke exposure a person gets before they develop breast cancer.
Statistics from a study done from 1976 to 2006 followed 111,140 women with a history of smoking and passive smoking. The study also included extra information from 36,017 women from 1982 to 2006 who reported being exposed to secondhand smoke. During the follow-up period from this study there were 8,772 cases of breast cancer reported. The test concluded that the risk of breast cancer was higher among women who:
Began smoking before the age of 17
Smoked a minimum of 25 cigarettes per day
Smoked for a minimum of 20 years
20 year smoker (present or past) who doubled their packs per day smoked from the time they started smoking.
Studies have also shown that nonsmokers (not exposed to passive smoke) and nonsmokers who were exposed to passive smoking during childhood were not at a higher risk for developing breast cancer. Another study reports that long term smokers with a specific genotype called NAT2 (N-acetyltransferase) have between a 35 percent and 50 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer. Approximately 50 percent of the American population of women
Breast cancer researchers who conduct different studies may come to slightly different conclusions as to the statistics relating to breast cancer risk and exposure to cigarette smoking. There is no way to prevent breast cancer. There isn’t a lot of information about whether we can decrease our risk of developing breast cancer when we quit smoking. The woman’s risk may depend on factors such as when a woman started smoking, how many packs a day were smoked, and the number of years she smoked. Women can temporarily increase their risk of breast cancer after quitting smoking.