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Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer: should alcohol be condemned and tobacco acquitted?

Authors
Publisher
Cancer Research UK
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Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

Dos Santos Silva, I (2002) Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer: should alcohol be condemned and tobacco acquitted? British journal of can- cer, 87 (11). pp. 1195-1196. ISSN 0007-0920 Downloaded from: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/16633/ Usage Guidelines Please refer to usage guidelines at http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/policies.html or alterna- tively contact [email protected] Available under license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ Editorial Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer: should alcohol be condemned and tobacco acquitted? I dos Santos Silva*,1 1Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK British Journal of Cancer (2002) 87, 1195 – 1196. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600633 www.bjcancer.com ª 2002 Cancer Research UK The first published report of an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk was by Williams and Horm (1977). This investigation was hypothesis-generating, however, in that it examined multiple potential risk factors for several cancers and, apart from age, ethnic group and smoking habits, no account was taken of other potential confounding variables. A possible association between breast cancer and tobacco smoking was first proposed by Macmahon et al (1982). They hypothesised that cigar- ette smoking would reduce the risk of breast cancer, mainly on the basis of their observation that smoking was associated with a reduction in urinary oestrogen levels during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. However, Hiatt and Fireman (1986) proposed a contrary hypothesis. They postulated that tobacco smoke would have a direct carcinogenic effect as mutagens from cigarette smoke had been found in the breast fluid of non-lactating women. Since these initial reports, a substantial number of epidemiolo- gical investigations have assessed these hypotheses. The overall evidence

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