Volume 93, Issue 89

Friday, March 17, 2000


Politically correct prof leads the way

Althouse College enrollment up

Drug tackles nicotine addiction

Province to hammer out teacher testing by June

Second-hand smoke linked to breast cancer

To stay healthy, don't get sick

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Second-hand smoke linked to breast cancer

By Lani Paterson
Gazette Writer

A recent study has revealed that exposure to second-hand smoke can double the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.

The study, conducted at the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control in Toronto, examined the effects of second-hand smoke on women, ranging from 35-65 years of age, said Ken Johnson, the study's lead researcher. He explained the research found the risk was greater in women between the ages of 35-50, who were exposed to smoke on a regular basis.

Johnson said the study, which was published in this month's issue of the international journal Cancer Causes and Control, had a high rate of accuracy because 1,420 women were surveyed. He explained the study was the first and largest of its kind to examine the link between breast cancer and second-hand smoke.

"I want the population to be concerned, but not scared to death," he said. "Just because someone is being exposed to second-hand smoke, does not mean the [harmful effects] are immediate. But the risk is up."

Johnson said precautionary measures such as avoiding smoke-filled environments and resisting the urge to smoke in the home were advisable, especially for women, attempting to curb the risk of cancer.

He added in 1996 and 1997, one third of children in Canadian homes were exposed to tobacco smoke. Banning smoking in the workplace, restaurants and bars will also help to create a smoke-free environment, Johnson said.

However, Jack Bend, associate dean of research in Western's faculty of medicine and dentistry, said while the study's findings seemed intriguing, he had some concerns. "I am not surprised that second-hand smoke increases risk of cancer, but I find it hard to believe the risk is doubled." He added breast cancer is an issue not often associated with the effects of smoking.

"[Second-hand] smoke negatively effects the health of everyone around it," said Peter Holt, membership services co-ordinator for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "It stands to reason that anyone breathing in harmful chemicals, is likely to develop some type of cancer."

Holt said the NSRA was not only concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke on women, but also children, who are often not empowered to leave a smoke-filled area.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000