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Smoking can Reduce Survival Rates for Breast Cancer Patients, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 27, 2016 10:34 AM EST

Women who smoke have a better shot at surviving breast cancer if they quit the habit, a new study is reporting.

For the research, the team headed by Michael Passarelli, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), examined medical data on more than 20,000 female breast cancer patients who were diagnosed from 1988 through to 2008. The women were in the age group of 20 to 79 and were mostly white.

The researchers tracked the outcomes of more than 4,500 women six years after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. This group of women was specifically asked about their smoking status. Overall, after a follow-up of around 12 years, about 6,800 women had passed away. Around 2,900 of those deaths were due to breast cancer.

"Women who quit smoking at the time of their diagnosis do better, they have better outcomes than women who continue to smoke after the diagnosis," Passarelli said reported by HealthDay via U.S. News and World Report.

The team calculated that women who were active smokers a year prior to their diagnosis had a 25 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer than women who never smoked. In women who continued to smoke after their diagnosis, their risk of death from the cancer was 72 percent higher than female patients who were never active smokers.

The researchers then compared the death risk in women who continued to smoke to women who had quit smoking after their diagnosis. They found that women who cut the habit were 33 percent less likely to die from breast cancer and 60 percent less likely to die from a respiratory cancer than women who continued to smoke.

The researchers noted that the difference in the death risk from breast cancer between women who continued to smoke and women who stopped smoking was not statistically significant. However, women who stopped smoking after their breast cancer diagnosis had better overall outcomes.

"Oncologists should be very aggressive about getting their patients to stop smoking," Passarelli said.

The study's findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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