Expert calls for more research into breast cancer smoking links

More needs to be done to understand the relationships between tobacco consumption and breast cancer in older women, one expert believes.

The US National Cancer Institute's Dr Sarah Nyante says that while results of a new 10-year study show an obvious link, researchers will now need to look closer at the mechanisms behind it.

As part of its research, the Bethesda-based Institute followed the progress of more than 180,000 women between the ages of 50 - 71. It found that the risk of developing breast cancer was 19 per cent higher in those who smoked regularly when compared to the women who didn't smoke at all.

Even those who had smoked earlier in life were seven per cent more likely to develop the disease, theguardian.com reports.

Adding to Dr Nyante's comments, Dr Julie Sharp from Cancer Research UK said: "Evidence remains inconsistent as to whether smoking causes breast cancer after as well as before the menopause, but this study suggests it may increase a post-menopausal woman's risk of breast cancer if she smokes or has smoked in the past.

"Quitting is not easy but, given that smokers lose an average of 10 years of life compared to non-smokers, the benefits are huge."

According to huffingtonpost.co.uk, the International Agency for Research on Cancer claimed that evidence suggesting a link between tobacco and breast cancer was "limited" in 2009.