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Smoking can hamper breast cancer treatment


London: Women who smoke are less likely to respond to breast cancer treatments in comparison to those who abstain from it, and on the contrary they may be negatively affected by it, says a study.

Women suffering with breast cancers were treated mostly with aromatase inhibitors — drugs that lower oestrogen levels in fatty tissue — that can reduce the risk of recurrence in women with oestrogen-receptive breast cancer.

The findings showed that the women, who attained menopause were conversely affected by aromatase inhibitors, as a result of smoking and were at an increased risk of dying, either from the breast cancer or from other illnesses.

“Smokers who were treated with aromatase inhibitors had a three times higher risk of recurrence of breast cancer compared with the non-smokers who got the same treatment,” said Helena Jernstrom, Associate Professor from Lund University in Sweden.

Conversely, women in the non-smoking category who were treated with aromatase inhibitors showed significant improvements.

“However, we saw little or no difference between smokers and non-smokers among patients treated with the drug tamoxifen, radiotherapy or chemotherapy,” Jernstrom noted in the paper published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The researchers conducted a survey of over 1,016 breast cancer patients. Approximately, one in every five women stated that she was either a regular smoker or a “social smoker”.

The impacts of smoking were analysed depending on what type of breast cancer treatment the patients received after their surgeries.

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