The month of October is in the pink, as in pink ribbons and pink products, to promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The NBCAM was founded more than 25 years ago and although this month focuses on this issue, the NBCAM is “dedicated to raising awareness and educating individuals about breast cancer throughout the year.” You have no control of some of the risk factors of breast cancer, such as gender, aging, and hereditary, but you can control the risk factor associated with smoking and breast cancer.
Results from a new study followed more than 73,000 women over 13 years and found that new cases of invasive breast cancer were “24% higher in smokers than in nonsmokers and 13% higher in former smokers than nonsmokers. The study, American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2013.
Researchers found that the younger the women were at the inception of smoking the higher the risk factor. Those who started smoking prior to their first menstrual cycle had a 61% higher risk than those who never smoked. These results were supported by the findings of 9 other earlier cohort studies that were reviewed. In fact, when the researchers combined all the earlier studies they “found a 12% increase in breast cancer risk among women who started smoking at a younger age, and a 21% increase risk among women who started before the birth of their first child.”
This increased risk of breast cancer from smoking, it is not “as large as the known increase for some other cancers, such as lung cancer (where smoking is estimated to increase the risk in women by about 13 times).” Tobacco use over all is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S., according to the CDC. Leaving tobacco out of your life is one risk factor you can control.
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