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April 23, 2009

Smoking & Breast Cancer linked

HEALTH - You probably already know smoking causes a variety of cancers, but today researchers released evidence that second-hand smoke, even small amounts of it, also causes breast cancer.

The Canadian led panel poured over more than 100 recent studies in search of the linkages, to comprehensively discover not only how widespread smoking-related breast cancer is, but determine just how deadly it is.

This comprehensive blue ribbon report puts to rest any academic uncertainty that has long troubled cancer researchers.

"Up until now the expert groups who have looked at this have shied away from making a definitive conclusion," says Dr. Anthony Miller, associate director of research at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana school of Public Health. "The evidence is consistent with a causal relationship and in our view that's sufficient to take action and let women know about this," Miller says.

In other words, its not a coincidence. It is direct cause and effect.

In 2006 a U.S. Surgeon General report had determined that research evidence was "suggestive but not sufficient" to draw a categorical connection between breast cancer and second hand smoke, because of lack of sheer numbers. This new report however is definitive.

Miller says his group gathered over a hundred previous studies, most of them written in the past eight years, deconstructed them down to the raw statistical data and comprehensively reanalyzed their data to draw conclusions.

That new analysis showed there was a definite cause and effect between the illness and active smoking in women of all ages. The statistics don't lie, over half of the women who have breast cancer smoke or have been exposed regularly to second hand smoke. The other half of the women have been exposed to other kinds of toxins, either by living in heavily polluted cities or eating toxic carcinogenic foods.

Should we really be surprised? Cancer is caused by toxins in the body and inhaling smoke of any kind contains thousands of tiny toxins.

Miller says many of the studies that had failed to find a relationship between tobacco and breast cancer — throwing ambiguity into the issue — were lacking sufficient data to draw any valid results. "If you don't collect sufficiently detailed information on exposure either to passive or active smoking...then you can get these lack of findings or low risks," he says.

The panel found evidence that smoking increases breast cancer risks by 40 to 50 per cent in some cases, and for women who are genetically more susceptible the risk is doubled.

They are still working on determining exactly how many cases of breast cancer could be traced directly back to tobacco use.

In theory the report should help to curb smoking among women, for whom breast cancer often holds a unique and particular terror, but like all smoking-related cancers, people just don't think its going to be them who gets it.

We all seem to think we're the exception to the statistics.

See Also:
Smokeless Cigarettes
Smoking in Canada
Canada's Smoking Laws

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