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Women who smoke or have been exposed to secondhand smoke may benefit from regular breast cancer testing. A new study published in the British Medical Journal has found that cigarette smoke significantly increases an individual's risk of developing the condition.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women. Even those who survive it may live with side effects that impact their quality of life. However, the findings of the study suggest that it may be largely avoidable.
After a review of medical records and survey responses from nearly 80,000 women that were collected between 1993 and 1998, the West Virginia University researchers found that women who smoked were 16 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Those who were exposed to the highest levels of secondhand smoke for 20 years or more had a 32 percent increased risk of cancer.
"Our findings highlight the need for interventions to prevent initiation of smoking, especially at an early age, and to encourage smoking cessation at all ages," said Karen Margolis, who led the study.
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