New Information on Smoking and Breast Cancer

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Smoking not only increases the risk of lung cancer, but breast cancer too. Is it nicotine or some other component in cigarette smoke that boosts the risk? Find out what a new study shows about smoking and breast cancer.

Most people know that smoking causes lung cancer, but what about other types of cancer – like cancer of the breast? A new study sheds light on this issue. According to new research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the nicotine found in cigarettes directly stimulates growth of breast cancer cells. One more reason to kick the habit.

Smoking and Breast Cancer: Does Smoking Cause Breast Cancer?

Scientists at Taipei Medical University identified a receptor called the nicotinic acetycholine receptor, or nAchR that binds to the nicotine in cigarettes – and plays a role in cigarette addition. Breast cancer cells also have this receptor and when nicotine binds to it, it stimulates growth of breast cancer cells. They discovered that breast cancer cells “overexpress” this receptor, which means they produce more – allowing more nicotine to bind to tumor cells – which speeds up the rate of cancer growth.

Breast Cancer and Smoking: Is It Only Nicotine?

Although many studies show smoking is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, scientists have never been sure whether nicotine or other chemicals in cigarettes were responsible for the increased risk. Women who have mutations in genes that cause them to be at high risk for breast cancer, and teenagers who start smoking early in life seem to be particularly susceptible to effects of smoking on breast tissue. This new study suggests that nicotine plays a role in stimulating breast cancer growth – although other chemicals in cigarettes may be important too.