Chronic Smoking & Breast Cancer: The Horrible Link

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in cancer

Dr. Howell

Smoking has long been tied to lung cancer and other chronic respiratory diseases. But don’t you know that having too many cigarettes can also up your risk of breast cancer? Yes. And not just once, not twice, but three times.

Woman Showing Pink Ribbon To Support Breast Cancer CauseBreast cancer is among the most common types of cancer that affect women and a small percentage of men worldwide. While treatments are available, many patients do not survive this disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, about one in nine women is going to develop it eventually. Apart from smoking, other factors of breast cancer include obesity, inactivity, alcohol use, and genetics.

A study published recently has found that people who smoked for more than two decades are three times more likely to develop breast cancer. While previous studies have already established a link between smoking and low survival rate among cancer patients, the latest study is among the first to examine the impact of the duration of smoking on a woman’s likelihood of getting breast cancer.


Even exposure to secondhand smoke can affect a person’s risk of developing the said disease. Research points out a tobacco-specific carcinogen that has been shown to transform and proliferate healthy breast epithelial cells into cancer cells. Furthermore, several earlier studies also suggest that women who begin smoking cigarettes as adolescents are at a greater risk of of breast cancer.


Why Quit Now?

There are so many reasons to quit smoking, not just to avoid developing breast cancer. Tobacco addiction has long been linked to a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, depression and dementia. Smoking is also a major cause of premature death.  Smokers, on average, die 13 to 14 years sooner than non-smokers. The dire effects of cigarette use do not end there. Several studies have shown that it can lead to impotence and fertility problems. For instance, one research suggests that women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk of having premature birth, and having babies with a low birth weight.


The good news is that regardless of how long you have been smoking, the benefits of quitting start the moment you throw away your last cigarette. There are so many resources online and offline you can use to address withdrawal problems and other issues that may come along as you quit smoking.

Smoking is indeed a hard habit to break. But it isn’t impossible to do. Seeking help from professionals is a great step towards a smoke-free life. And no matter how old you are, it is never too late to quit.

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