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Breast Cancer News: Passive smoking can cause breast cancer

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By Jimmy Downs

Saturday Nov 17, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A study in British Medical Journal suggests that passive smoking or second-hand smoking may increase risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

J. Luo of Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia and colleagues conducted the study and found that of women who had never smoked, those who had intensive passive smoking were almost 32 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those who were not exposed to passive smoking.

The researchers found the association between passive smoking and elevated risk of breast cancer after analyzing data from 79,990 women aged 50 to 79 enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Study between 1993 and 1998. During a 10-year follow-up, 3520 cases of invasive breast cancer were identified.

The same study also found a strong association between actively smoking tobacco or cigarette smoking and elevated risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women, particularly in those who started smoking in the teenage years.  Early and long exposure to smoke was linked to greater risk of breast cancer.

The risk of breast cancer increased by smoking persisted for up to 20 years after smoking cessation, according to the study.

The researchers concluded "Active smoking was associated with an increase in breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. There was also a suggestion of an association between passive smoking and increased risk of breast cancer."

Those who experienced passive smoking may not have to worry too much about their risk for breast cancer. After all, worrying by itself can increase the risk.  The fact is that many things women can do to reduce their risk of this disease that kills about 40,000 women in the United States.

An authoritative organization has made it clear that two major risk factors for breast cancer are medical radiation and hormone therapy although some other factors can also affect the risk.

One other preventative measure women can take to prevent breast cancer risk is to follow a healthy diet that is full of dietary antioxidants.

A study led by G. Nagel of Ulm University in Ulm, Germany and colleagues and published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that of postmeopausal women, particularly those using hormone therapy, those who had high dietary intake of vitamin C and dietary beta-carotene were 12%  and 21% less likely to develop breast cancer respectively.

The study also found that of postmenopausal women who used alcohol, those who had high intake of dietary beta-carotene had lower risk of breast cancer.

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