Smoking Lowers Breast Cancer Survival
Smoking after diagnosis tied to 72 percent higher risk of death from the disease versus never smoking
By Kathleen Doheny
TUESDAY, Jan. 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women diagnosed with breast cancer who continue to smoke cigarettes are less likely to survive than those who never smoked or those who quit, new research finds.
The study suggests that it's never too late to quit smoking to help boost cancer survival.
"Women who quit smoking at the time of their diagnosis do better, they have better outcomes than women who continue to smoke after the diagnosis," noted study leader Michael Passarelli, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
The smokers also had a higher risk of dying from respiratory cancers or heart disease and strokes, the research team found.
The study was published online Jan. 25 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The researchers looked at the data from more than 20,000 women. The women were between the ages of 20 and 79, and nearly all were white. All had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 1988 and 2008.
Six years after the diagnosis, the researchers contacted more than 4,500 of the women, asking about their smoking status. During the follow-up of about 12 years, almost 6,800 women died, including about 2,900 deaths due to breast cancer, the findings showed.
Active smokers who were smoking a year before the diagnosis were 25 percent more likely than never smokers to die from breast cancer. They were also more likely to die from respiratory cancer, respiratory disease or from cardiovascular disease, according to the report.
The researchers compared the 10 percent of women who kept smoking after diagnosis to the never smokers, and found they were 72 percent more likely to die of breast cancer.
Next, the investigators compared those who quit smoking after being diagnosed with those who continued to smoke. Those who quit were 33 percent less likely to die of breast cancer during the follow-up period, although the researchers said the difference was not statistically significant.
Women who quit smoking after their breast cancer diagnosis were 60 percent less likely than those who kept smoking to die of respiratory cancer, the research showed.