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Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Dec 1;182(11):917-25. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv092. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Smoking and Risk of Breast Cancer in a Racially/Ethnically Diverse Population of Mainly Women Who Do Not Drink Alcohol: The MEC Study.


We prospectively examined the association between smoking and the risk of breast cancer in a racially/ethnically diverse population comprising mainly women who did not drink alcohol. From 1993 to 2010, we followed 83,300 women who were enrolled in the Multiethnic Cohort Study at 45-75 years of age. We identified cancer cases via linkage to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program cancer registries that covered the states of Hawaii and California through December 2010. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals while adjusting for confounders that were decided a priori. During a mean follow-up of 15 years, 4,484 women developed invasive breast cancer. Compared with parous never smokers, women who had smoked for more than 20 pack-years and initiated smoking more than 5 years before their first childbirth had an overall risk of breast cancer that was 35% higher (hazard ratio = 1.35, 95% confidence interval: 1.13, 1.63). Among women who did not drink alcohol, the risk was 40% higher (hazard ratio = 1.40, 95% confidence interval: 1.08, 1.81). This higher risk did not significantly differ among racial/ethnic groups (P(interaction) = 0.82). We found that various measures of smoking exposure were associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, especially smoking initiated many years before first childbirth, and that risk did not differ by alcohol consumption (yes vs. no) or racial/ethnic group.


Multiethnic Cohort Study; alcohol abstinence; breast cancer; cohort studies; confounding; ethnic differences; smoking; smoking duration before first childbirth

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