Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Deaths - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on October 20, 2015

Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Deaths

Smoking is bad for your health – we’ve known this for a long time. Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease, lung cancer and other serious health conditions. But a new study has linked this habit to yet another health scare: breast cancer.

The study found that long-time smokers may face an increased risk of death if they develop breast cancer. Researchers discovered that women who smoked for more than two decades had at least triple the odds of dying of any cause, breast cancer in particular, compared with women who never smoked cigarettes.

Less than two decades of smoking were also linked with an increased risk of death from breast cancer, but the extra risk was so small that researchers believe that it may be due to chance rather than smoking.

The verdict is still out on whether smoking can actually increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer in the first place. Some studies have found that smoking does increase the risk; others show the opposite.

Benefits of Giving Up Smoking

Regardless of your personal breast cancer risk, you have plenty of reasons to not smoke or quit the habit – tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the U.S., equaling about 443,000 early deaths each year, according to the American Cancer Society. And about half of all people who continue to smoke will end up dying from a tobacco-related disease.

Most people already know that smoking causes lung cancer, but it also increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, lips, nose and sinuses, voice box, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, colon, ovary as well as acute myeloid leukemia. It also raises the risk of heart disease, lung disease and other serious health problems.

The American Cancer Society reports that smokers who quit their habit for even just one day take a crucial step toward a healthier life with a reduced risk of cancer.

And as soon as you quit, the benefits begin immediately.

When you quit, your heart rate and blood pressure drop within the first 20 minutes. The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to a normal level within 12 hours. Your circulation improves and your lung function increases within two weeks to three months. In one to nine months of quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. In one year, your increased risk of heart disease becomes half that of a continuing smoker. In five years, your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder cancer are cut in half while the risk of cervical cancer falls to that of a non-smoker. Your risk of stroke also decreases at this point. And, after 15 years of being smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease becomes that of a non-smoker.

These benefits of quitting smoking take place no matter what age you started smoking, what age you decide to quit or how long you’ve been smoking.

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