Nicotine Linked To Breast Cancer | More Bad News for Women Smokers

It is well known that smoking cigarettes  leads to an increase in lung cancer and oral cancers.  Recent research has now shown that nicotineitself is linked specifically to breast cancer.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Yuan Soon Ho of Taipei Medical University exposed nicotine to normal human breast cells and also to diseased  human breast cancer cells. Results of this study showed that normal healthy breast cells exposed to nicotine developed characteristics of diseased breast cancer cells. Breast cancer cells exposed to nicotine produce a receptor for nicotine on the cell surface.  In this study the  breast cells produced alpha 9 subunit (a9-nAChr) of the nicotine acetylcholine receptor.  The more advanced the breast cancer, the greater the number of these nicotine receptors. This means that the nicotine binding receptor has a direct impact on on the development and growth of  breast cancer cells. More bad news for smokers.

Women who smoke and use hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen and progestins have double the  risk of  developing breast cancer compared to non smoking women on hormone replacement therapy.

In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain many other cancer causing chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic, tars and carbon monoxide. Even exposure to second hand smoke can lead to the appearance of nicotine in the breastmilk of nursing mothers. Any source of nicotine, including the many nicotine patches and gums used to stop smoking can stimulate breast cancer cells through this newly discovered nicotine-breast cancer connection.

Furthermore, the heat of the smoke burns the tiny hair like cilia which sweep particles and debris from your airways and throat.  Once these cilia are destroyed the capacity to remove inhaled particles from the lungs and throat and nasal passages is also destroyed.

Increased risks for women smokers include:

  • Increased risk of breast cancer, lung cancer, oral cancers, cervical cancer and vulvar cancer
  • Increased risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack (This risk is  dramatically increased if women smokers are also using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen and progestins)
  • Increased risk of bone loss, osteoporosis and fractures of the hip and spine
  • Increased rates of infertility
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Early onset of menopause
  • Increased risks in pregnancy and for the newborn: pre-term delivery, low birthweight, premature rupture of membranes(premature onset of labor), placenta previa, miscarriage, and infant death.
  • Newborns of mothers who smoke must go through nicotine withdrawal in the first weeks of life.
  • Increased risk of  respiratory diseases including asthma and  emphysema destroying the capacity to breathe normally.
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure

Among the many methods available, I use Acupuncture, a particularly effective method to stop smoking. Acupuncture has an impact on the physiologic addiction to nicotine. Typically 3-6 treatments are given over 14 days. Within 10 days the physical cravings decrease. Additionally, the psychological and behavioral issues associated with smoking must be addressed in order to successfully become a non-smoker for life.

Smoking is the most PREVENTABLE cause of death in the U.S. Over 140, 000 women die each year due to smoking related deaths.Women smokers not only put themselves at increased risk but also impact the health of their children, families, and co-workers by exposing them to the dangers of second hand smoke.

Given the new evidence linking nicotine directly to breast cancer, now is the time to plan to quit smoking for life.

More on alternative cancer care and cancer prevention