Nicotine May Contribute to the Spread of Breast Cancer

2/20/2014

One more hazard has been discovered concerning smoking – if anyone needed yet another reason to quit. In a study by researchers with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, it was discovered that nicotine may help in the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body, contributing to the metastasis that often leads to death in cancer victims.

Cancer cells that came in contact with nicotine began signaling the cell growth and migration to other locations within the body. Scientists also found that in addition to promoting more vigorous cancer cell growth, nicotine also affected some precancerous cells, causing them to become cancerous.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. At this time, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. “An unusual lump is usually the first sign of breast cancer,” said Ben Darby, MD, ob/gyn with OBG-1 of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “It’s usually either felt during a self-exam, found during a clinical exam, or indicated during a mammogram.”

Other research regarding smoking shows that women who smoke a pack a day for 11 years or more increased their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 40%. This increased risk also applied to women who began smoking at a young age, and those who smoked regularly before giving birth for the first time.

“We don’t need more research to show that smoking is harmful,” said Dr. Darby. “But, as researchers continue to look closely at the negative effects of smoking, we’ll continue to hear about the negative effects of smoking. It’s unfortunate, because smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in America.”

Deciding to quit smoking is one of the best health decisions to make, resulting in numerous health benefits throughout the body.

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