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For breast cancer patients, never too late to quit smoking

cancer, other respiratory disease, or cardiovascular disease than women who had never smoked. The highest risks of death as a result of breast cancer were observed among long-term smokers, people who smoked heavily, or former smokers who quit fewer than five years before breast cancer diagnosis.

Approximately one in ten cancer patients continued to smoke following their diagnosis and they were more likely than people who had never smoked and former smokers to die of breast cancer, the researchers said. Those who quit smoking after diagnosis had lower mortality from breast cancer and respiratory cancer.

“Smoking cessation programs should be considered part of cancer therapy,” Passarelli said. “Recent policy statements from leading research and clinical organizations are now urging oncologists to be as aggressive in getting their patients to stop smoking as they are in treating the cancer.”

The study did not assess for exposure to second-hand smoke nor did it include hormone receptor status of breast tumors.

Co-authors are Polly Newcomb, PhD, MPH, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; John Hampton, MS, and Amy Trentham-Dietz, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; Linda Titus, PhD, of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School; Kathleen Egan, ScD, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa; John Baron, MD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill; and Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.