Exploring the Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use in Black Breast Cancer Survivors

News from Dean Amy P. Murtha, MD
Dept. of Communications and Public Affairs | Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

A recent Rutgers study has found that a higher risk of mortality in Black breast cancer survivors is associated with a history of cigarette smoking, along with regular alcohol consumption at the time of diagnosis. 

The study — published in JAMA Network Open — was led by Nur Zeinomar, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the medical school and associate member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and senior author Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the medical school and Rutgers School of Public Health; and professor and chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes, and Unilever Chair for the Study of Diet and Nutrition in the Prevention of Chronic Disease at Rutgers Cancer Institute. Dr. Bandera also serves as co-leader of the Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

Of the 1,926 Black breast cancer survivors in the study, researchers found that those who smoked at the time of breast cancer diagnosis had a 52 percent increased risk for death due to any cause, compared with those who never smoked. 

While there is limited data about how lifestyle factors are associated with breast cancer prognosis in Black women, as the majority of evidence is based on studies in white breast cancer survivors, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes limited alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking, has been associated with improved survival following a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Our findings add to the evidence of the detrimental health impacts of smoking and underscore the need of tailored and targeted survivorship care for breast cancer survivors, particularly Black women and those with heavier levels of smoking,” says Dr. Zeinomar.

More information can be found here.