Washington — Wives of smokers aren't more apt to die of breast cancer than are the wives of nonsmokers, according to a new study of more than 146,000 women.
The study, the largest ever to address the question of breast cancer death and secondhand smoking, contradicts some smaller studies that had suggested environmental tobacco smoke was a risk factor for breast cancer death.
Daniel Artenberg of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, first author of the study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, said the study does not mean that the health risks of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) can be ignored.
Artenberg, a researcher at the University's Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, studied 146,488 women who had never smoked. Those who lived with spouses who smoked were identified.
After 12 years, the breast cancer death rate among women married to men who smoked was compared to the rate among women whose spouses never smoked. The result, said Artenberg, showed that among the 669 women who died of breast cancer there was no statistical suggestion that ETS increased the risk for women who lived with smokers.