Increased risk of breast cancer for teen smokers

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills up to half of its users
  • Teenage girls who smoke are especially vulnerable to developing breast cancer later in life
  • In South Africa, Protect Our Next aims to improve tobacco control legislation and educate the public on its harmful effects 

The month of October is breast cancer awareness month.

It marks a special time for survivors of breast cancer, reminding them of what they have overcome. It is also a painful reminder of the dreadful effect of the disease on those who have lost loved ones as a result. Most importantly, Breast Cancer Awareness Month allows us to reflect and educate ourselves on ways in which we can lower our risk of developing cancer.

Protect Our Next is a partnership between CANSA, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMFC), and the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA). The aim of this partnership is to improve tobacco control legislation and also educate the public on the harmful effects of tobacco usage. 

Lowering the risk of developing cancer

In a press release, Protect Our Next recently expressed that teenage girls who smoke are especially vulnerable to developing breast cancer later in life. The risk is even higher for those who have a family history of cancer.

While the risk for breast cancer can be due to family history, a study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer confirmed that smoking is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. A fact sheet on the World Health Organization (WHO) website also shows that tobacco kills up to half of its users. 

Controlling the consumption of tobacco, especially among the youth, is therefore a vital part of lowering the risk of developing cancer. Lorraine Govender of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) expressed, "We must ensure that we have policies in place that protect young people from these toxic, carcinogenic products. Too many lives are lost through cancers resulting from tobacco addiction, and we need to reduce every risk factor.”

Govender went on to say that implementing a new Bill that makes it harder to obtain and use tobacco-related products will be a step in the right direction.

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