Is there a link between Breast Cancer And Smoking? According to the National Cancer Institute, “Tobacco use is a major cause of lung cancer and an even stronger risk factor for breast cancer in women”.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 different chemicals, including many carcinogens that have been linked to cancer. Keep reading to learn more about how smoking can cause cancer and other health issues.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the breast tissue. It can occur in both men and women, but it is most common in women.
Breast cancer can be either noninvasive or invasive. Noninvasive breast cancer means that the cancer cells are confined to the breast ducts and have not spread to other tissues.
Invasive breast cancer means that the cancer cells have spread beyond the breast ducts and into other tissues of the body.
Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer
There are numerous risk factors for breast cancer, some of which you can control and others that you cannot.
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases with age. The vast majority of cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 50.
- Family history: If you have close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your own risk is increased.
- Genetic predisposition: There are certain genetic mutations that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. These include the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Women with these mutations have up to an 85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
- Diet: A diet high in fat and sugar has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce your risk.
- Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The more you drink, the higher your risk will be.
- Obesity: Being overweight is another risk, particularly after menopause. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce your chances.
- Physical activity: Women who are physically inactive have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Getting regular exercise can help keep breast cancer and other health issues at bay
How Does Smoking Causes Breast Cancer?
There are a few possible explanations for how smoking might increase the risk of breast cancer.
1. Smoking Damages The DNA
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the molecule that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms.
When DNA is damaged, it can no longer perform its normal functions. This can lead to cancer by allowing cells to grow and divide uncontrollably.
Smoking damages DNA in a number of ways that can lead to cancer. The most direct way is through the production of harmful chemicals known as free radicals. These reactive molecules damage DNA directly, causing mutations that can lead to cancer.
Smoking also increases levels of inflammation throughout the body, and this chronic inflammation can also damage DNA. Inflammation causes oxidative stress, which leads to the formation of more free radicals. These free radicals can then damage DNA, leading to mutations that can cause cancer.
Smoking also impairs the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA. This means that even if smoking doesn’t directly damage DNA, it can still make it more likely for cancer-causing mutations to occur.
All of these mechanisms add up to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
2. It Increases Estrogen Levels
It is well-known that smoking cigarettes can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. However, many people are unaware that smoking can also increase estrogen levels in the body, which can lead to breast cancer.
Estrogen is a hormone that’s produced by the ovaries and plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle and reproductive health.
Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout a woman’s life, with levels rising during puberty and declining after menopause.
Estrogen also encourages the growth of breast tissues; however, when it’s too high, the increased growth rate makes it more difficult for the body to break down and remove damaged cells. This can cause abnormal cell growth and eventually lead to cancer.
3. Smoking Damages Blood Vessels
Smoking damages blood vessels by causing them to narrow and harden. This reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches tissues, including the breasts.
Oxygen is essential for the cells in our body to function properly. When they don’t get enough oxygen, they become stressed and undergo damage that may sometimes result in cancer formation.
4. Smoking Damages The Immune System
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection.
The chemicals in cigarettes weaken the immune system, making it less able to fight off infection and disease, including cancer.
This means that smokers are more likely to develop cancers that they would otherwise be able to fight off. This is also why smokers are more likely to develop infections, including respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Additional Effects Of Smoking On The Body
1. It Can Cause Gum Disease
Smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease. In fact, smokers are six times more likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can progress to affect the bone supporting your teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
When you smoke, the chemicals in cigarettes settle on your teeth and gums. These chemicals make it harder for your gums to fight off infection. They also irritate and damage the delicate tissue in your mouth, leading to inflammation and redness, which breaks the protective barrier making it easy for pathogens to invade.
2. It Can Diminish Eyesight
Smoking cigarettes causes loss or weakening of eyesight due to the damage done to the blood vessels in the eyes.
This can lead to decreased blood flow to the retina and other parts of the eye, resulting in vision problems.
For instance, smoking increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of blindness in older adults. It damages the macula, the part of your eye that allows you to see fine details clearly.
Cataracts are another common vision problem caused by smoking. A cataract forms when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy. This makes it harder for you to see clearly. Smoking doubles your risk for cataracts.
Glaucoma is another eye condition caused by smoking. It occurs when the pressure inside your eye builds up and damages the optic nerve. This can lead to blindness if not treated early.
3. It Can Cause Infertility In Men And Women
Smoking cigarettes causes infertility in both men and women. In men, smoking can damage the sperm and lower testosterone levels, which can lead to a decrease in sperm count and motility.
In women, smoking can damage the eggs and cause them to break down faster. It can also cause the lining of the uterus to thin, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
4. Smoking Can Cause Cardiovascular Disease
Smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. It damages the lining of your arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. This makes it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing other conditions that can lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
5. Smoking Can Slow Wound Healing
When you smoke, it slows down the production of collagen in your body. Collagen is a protein that helps wounds heal. So, if you smoke and have a wound, it’s likely that your wound will take longer to heal than if you didn’t smoke.
Smoking also decreases blood flow, which means that fewer nutrients and oxygen are reaching the wound site. This can further delay healing.
If you have a chronic wound, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to help it heal.
6. Smoking Causes Premature Aging
Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. As a result, smokers often have wrinkles and sagging skin. They may also develop premature jowls — an early sign of aging.
In addition, the chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the DNA in your skin cells. This can lead to changes that cause your skin to break down and age prematurely.
7. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. Cigarette smoking causes most cases of COPD.
Smoking damages your lungs and airways, causing inflammation and making them more susceptible to infection.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke also damage the tiny air sacs in your lungs, which reduces your ability to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.
COPD can develop over time, and symptoms may not appear until later in life. The most common symptom is a cough that doesn’t go away, but other symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest pain.
Cigarette smoking is the only preventable cause of COPD, and quitting smoking is the best way to prevent the disease from getting worse.
Alternatives To Smoking
While quitting smoking is the best way to improve your health, it’s not always easy. If you’re struggling to quit smoking, there are a number of healthy alternatives that can help you kick the habit.
One alternative to smoking is using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT can come in the form of patches, gum, lozenges, or inhalers. It works by delivering small doses of nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Another option is prescription medications. These can include bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix), which work by blocking the effects of nicotine on your brain. These medications can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and make it easier to quit smoking.
If you’re looking for a more natural approach, there are a number of herbs and supplements that can help with quitting smoking.
For example, lobelia has been shown to be effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms. Other options include St. John’s wort and ginseng.
In addition, making lifestyle changes can be helpful when trying to quit smoking; exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, two common triggers for smokers. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol can also make it easier to quit smoking.
How To Quit Smoking
If you’re ready to quit smoking, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. They include:
- Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to quit and what method you’ll use. The easiest way is to choose alternatives, like those discussed above.
- Get rid of all tobacco products from your home, car, and workplace. This will help reduce the temptation to smoke.
- Tell your family and friends about your decision to quit. They can provide support and encouragement during this difficult time.
- Make a list of reasons why you want to quit smoking. This can be a motivator when times get tough.
- Find an activity or hobby to occupy your time and attention when you would normally smoke. This can help take your mind off cigarettes and keep you from becoming bored or antsy.
- Avoid situations where you’re more likely to smoke, such as bars or parties. If you can’t avoid them altogether, try to spend less time in them or go with someone who doesn’t smoke.
- Don’t give up if you have a slip-up. Everyone has setbacks while trying to quit smoking. Just get back on track and keep going until you’ve successfully made it through the entire process
Smoking is one of the leading causes of breast cancer.
This is due to the harmful chemicals in cigarettes that can damage DNA and cause cells to grow abnormally, leading to cancer.
Women who smoke are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don’t smoke, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and for how long one has been smoking.
Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
If you’re struggling to quit, the tips in this article can help you get started. You can also Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking for good.
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