Roswell Park Researchers: Smoke-Free Air May Reduce Risk For Breast Cancer

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BUFFALO, NY — Smoke-free homes and workplaces are linked to reductions in breast-cancer incidence and mortality rates, according to researchers at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell Park). The analysis, published in the current issue of the journal Tobacco Control, was conducted by Kenneth Piazza, MD, MPH and Andrew Hyland, PhD, Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park.

The investigators report that there was a statistically significant decrease in breast-cancer mortality, particularly for younger premenopausal women, as the number of smoke-free homes and workplaces increased. Scientists estimate that about 20% of the change in breast-cancer mortality rates is due to changes in smoke-free home and workplace policies.       

“While the evidence for secondhand smoke and breast-cancer risk remains controversial, this study demonstratesa very strong inverse correlation. States with higher percentages of women working and living in smoke-free spaces have lower breast-cancer rates,” said Dr. Hyland.        

The study explored the prevalence of rules not allowing smoking in the home and workplace with state-specific rates of breast-cancer incidence and mortality. States with higher percentages of rules for not allowing smoking may also have other, healthier values contributing to a lower risk of breast cancer. Therefore, scientific models were used to adjust for variables such as body-mass index and mammography screening.        

Hyland continued, “In spite of the challenges of adjusting for variables, the increasing number of rules prohibiting smoking in both the home and workplace can be linked to declining incidence and mortality rates for breast cancer, and is noteworthy.”         

“This study provides yet another reason for people to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke exposure,” said K. Michael Cummings, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park. Smokers who want free help to stop smoking can call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669/TTY 1-800-332-8615).

The study is available at or on request from Roswell Park.

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is based at Roswell Park and funded by the New York State Tobacco Control Program. Its goal is to educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco use, engage local stakeholders to adopt policies that restrict the tobacco industry’s presence in our communities, seek to de-normalize tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreewny.comor

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager