Long-term breast cancer survival negatively impacted by smoking

A new study shows that smoking has a negative impact on long-term survival in breast cancer patients and quitting smoking may reduce mortality risk.

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The study, published Thursday in JNCI Cancer Spectrum, consisted of 1,508 Long Island women with breast cancer who were asked about their smoking status.
Researchers found that the risk of all-cause mortality was higher among the 19 percent of women who reported smoking when they were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to those who never smoked.

The risk of all-cause mortality was even higher among the 8 percent of women who were smokers at or after diagnosis, however, it was reduced among the 11 percent of women who quit smoking after diagnosis.

“Studies of smoking and breast cancer survival have generally focused on at-diagnosis smoking as a prognostic indicator,” Dr. Humberto Parada of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a news release.

“We considered the impact of post-diagnosis changes in smoking and show that quitting smoking after diagnosis may be important to improve survival among women with breast cancer. Future studies should continue to study the mechanisms by which smoking impacts breast cancer specific-survival.”

Smoking at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was linked to a 69 percent higher risk of all-cause mortality, compared to women who never smoked. The risk of all-cause mortality increased 130 percent for women who continued to smoke after diagnosis compared to those who never smoked.

Breast cancer specific mortality risk was increased 60 percent in women who continued to smoke after diagnosis, but was not elevated in those who quit smoking compared to women who never smoked.

“Evidence that smoking cessation benefits even those who quit soon after diagnosis should serve as continued motivation for breast cancer survivors to pursue positive health behavior changes,” study authors stated.

By Amy Wallace