Yesterday a Canadian panel released the findings of a new study claiming to link breast cancer with smoking. Breast cancer and smoking have never been conclusively linked in the past, and it should be noted that the panel recommends further research on the topic.
The New York Times article is a good one, though it wastes no time pointing out that Americans have already beaten the Canadian panel to the punch – and way back in 2005, thank-you very much: “The California Environmental Protection Agency came to similar conclusions in a report in 2005 that said secondhand smoke was a cause of premenopausal breast cancer for younger women who had never smoked but were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.”
Apparently, as with previous studies about smoking and breast cancer, this one seems to suggest that the risk of getting breast cancer may actually be slightly higher from passive (second-hand) smoking, which makes the Globe and Mail’s headline a little wonky: Smoking – even second-hand – increases breast cancer risk.
That should probably read: “Smoking – especially second hand – increases breast cancer risk,” but then all those nutty premenopausal smokers out there might justify lighting up, thinking it safer to get their nic-fixes through the filter (such is the psyche of the smoker; I speak from experience) – and our venerable national paper isn’t going to have that on its conscience.
Venerable though it may be, it appears that theglobeandmail.com is where all the crazy, angry people go to post comments – or rather hurl them at one another. Nothing busts Canadians out of their “polite-and-reserved” zone like the prospect of someone lighting a butt in the vicinity. Check out the comments section, as shrill anti-smokers and other odd ducks get all worked up about smoking and completely lose the thread of the breast cancer story.
For a lot of people, this study will be less a tool for breast cancer awareness and prevention, and more of a weapon in the anti-smoking arsenal. Maybe it will amount to the same thing in the end – but in the mean time, watch the fur fly…