Posted: August 8, 2012

As an Oncologist, for years I believed that passive smoke – that inhaled when you don’t smoke but those around you do – was overhyped as a health risk.  After all how could your exposure to smoke second hand compare to that received by someone inhaling a cigarette directly into his or her lungs?  And then I looked into it further.

I started with a recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2011;342:d1016) which re-ignited the debate about the role of passive smoking and cancer.  For a long time conventional wisdom held that there was no relationship between smoking and breast cancer.  The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – the same group that killed off hormone replacement therapy by its findings about hormones, cancer and heart disease – has now weighed in on the relationship of smoking and breast cancer. Brainchild of the Harvard School of Public Health, the WHI is one of several groups conducting huge longitudinal studies carried on over decades to try to understand what causes diseases, and how they can be prevented. In the British Medical Journal article the HSPH has told us what they learned by studying nearly 80,000 women over many years.

+ Read more about smoking and cancer, and Dr. Stark’s comments, at the BS 757 blog.