Postmenopausal women who smoke have up to a 16 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who have never smoked, according to a 10-year study of 80,000 women. In addition, the risk of developing breast cancer was elevated by nine percent among women who used to smoke.

The study also finds that postmenopausal women who were exposed extensively to secondhand smoke, either in childhood or as adults, may have a more than 30 percent excess risk of developing breast cancer.

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1. Luo J, Margolis KL, Wactawski-Wende J, et al. Association of active and passive smoking with risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women: a prospective cohort study. BMJ 2011; 342: d1016. (open access)