Passive Smoking and Breast Cancer - a Suspicious Link

  • Malik, Abhidha (Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr B.R.A Institute of Rotary Cancer Hospital) ;
  • Jeyaraj, Pamela Alice (Department of Radiation Oncology, Christian Medical College and Hospital) ;
  • Shankar, Abhishek (Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr B.R.A Institute of Rotary Cancer Hospital) ;
  • Rath, Goura Kishore (Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr B.R.A Institute of Rotary Cancer Hospital) ;
  • Mukhopadhyay, Sandip (Department of Pharmacology, Christian Medical College and Hospital) ;
  • Kamal, Vineet Kumar (Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences)
  • Published : 2015.09.02


Background: Breast cancer is the most common malignancy of women in the world. The disease is caused by infectious and non-infectious, environmental and lifestyle factors. Tobacco smoke has been one of the most widely studied environmental factors wiith possible relevance to breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of tobacco smoking in breast cancer patients in a hospital based cohort and to establish prognostic implications if any. Materials and Methods: A retrospective audit of 100 women with pathological diagnosis of invasive breast cancer was included in this study. The verbal questionnaire elicited information on current and previous history of exposure to smoking in addition to active smoking. All analyses were adjusted for potential confounders, including stage at presentation, alcohol intake, hormonal replacement therapy, oral contraceptive intake, obesity and menopausal status. Results: The mean age at presentation of breast cancer was $51.4{\pm}10.86$ years. Mean age of presentation was $53.1{\pm}11.5$ and $45.7{\pm}11.9$ years in never smokers and passive smokers, respectively. Age at presentation varied widely in patients exposed to tobacco smoke for >10 years in childhood from $40.3{\pm}12.0$ years to $47.7{\pm}13.9$ in patients exposed for > 20years as adults. Among passive smokers, 60.9% were premenopausal and 39.1% of patients were postmenopausal. In never smokers, 71.4% were post menopausal. Expression of receptors in non-smokers vs passive smokers was comparable with no significant differences. Metastatic potential in lung parenchyma was slightlyelevated in passive smokers as compared to never smokers although statistically non-significant. Conclusions: An inverse relationship exists between the intensity and duration of smoking and the age at presentation and poor prognostic factors. The results strongly suggest efforts should be taken to prevent smoking, encourage quitting and restrict exposure to second hand smoke in India.


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