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Smoking and Tobacco

Can smoking cause breast cancer?

09/20/2007

Question:

hi,im a 24 yrs old female,im overweight,but have no health issues as such.i have noticed that my left breast is slightly bigger than my right breast,only very slight,and i sometimes have a little pain or tenderness in my larger breast(which is not due to periods).i also smoke about 5-7 ciggrates in a day,i just want to know that can it be breast cancer or if the slight pain is caused by smoking.i want to know if there is any relation between smoking and breast cancer .im trying to quit now.i wud be very grateful for ur reply.thankyou.

Answer:

You pose several excellent questions.  Let me address them in order.  You probably already know this, but I'll repeat it anyway - having one breast somewhat larger than the other is so common it may be the norm.  Breast pain -- what doctors call "mastalgia" is also common.  Two-thirds of women have some breast pain or tenderness before their periods and about one in six women suffer from it at other times of the month.  Mastalgia does occur more frequently in smokers and in women who misuse alcohol, and those who are depressed or anxious or who have a variety of other medical conditions.   
 
Does smoking cause breast cancer?  Some large studies show no association while others indicate that especially long-term smoking may play a role. Some recent studies have shown that even secondhand smoke exposure may be a factor with young women who develop breast cancer.  But does it really matter?  Smoking is already known to cause fifteen other deadly cancers, not to mention heart attacks, stroke, depression, wrinkles, emphysema, impotence, tooth and hair loss -- to name a few.  And I might add that polling shows that three-fourths of young men don't want to date a smoker.
 
It seems unlikely that your pain is related to cancer.  Maybe it's actually a little deeper than the breast, rather your heart telling you it's time to make some changes.  See your doctor and get a good exam.  This is a great opportunity to confront both your smoking and your weight issues.  You can do this -- and your doctor can help!
 

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Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University