Smoking has already been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes, and now a new study in the British Medical Journal suggests tobacco can also slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
The study drew on the records of the long-running nurses’ health study, which included more than 1,000 women over a period of 30 years.
The researchers found that women who smoked had a 16% increased risk of developing breast cancer. Among women who quit, the increased risk was 9%.
The greatest risk was for women who had smoked for 50 years or longer, compared with women who never smoked. The risk was also high for women who started smoking when they were teenagers. Even after quitting, the risk continued for up to 20 years, the researchers noted.
Second-hand smoke also increased women’s risk of breast cancer. Time to butt out!