Breast Cancer Rates Lower for Women in Smoke-Free Homes, Workplaces

A new analysis supports past studies showing that women who live and work in smoke-free environments are less likely to develop breast cancer, HealthDay News reported March 18.

Past studies have not yielded conclusive scientific agreement on the correlation between secondhand smoke and breast cancer. Researchers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute compared state breast cancer rates with the percentage of non-smoking homes and workplaces in each state. They found that breast cancer occurred in fewer women in states with higher numbers of non-smoking environments. The results were even more pronounced among younger, pre-menopausal women.

The researchers credited no-smoking policies for “about 20 percent of the change in breast-cancer death,” HealthDay reported.

“While the evidence for secondhand smoke and breast cancer risk remains controversial, this study demonstrates a very strong inverse correlation,” said Andrew Hyland, one of the study's authors. “States with higher percentages of women working and living in smoke-free spaces have lower breast cancer rates.”

His colleague, K. Michael Cummings, said, “This study provides yet another reason for people to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke exposure.”

The study, ” Prevalence of rules prohibiting home and workplace smoking correlates with state-specific breast cancer outcomes: an ecologic analysis,” appeared online March 12, 2011 in Tobacco Control.

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