Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 127–135

Smoking and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers: an update


  • Ophira Ginsburg
    • The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital
  • Parviz Ghadirian
    • Epidemiology Research Unit, Centre Hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal (CHUM) Hotel-Dieu, Faculty of MedicineUniversite de Montreal
  • Jan Lubinski
    • Pomeranian Medical University
  • Cezary Cybulski
    • Pomeranian Medical University
  • Henry Lynch
    • Department of Preventive Medicine and Public HealthCreighton University School of Medicine
  • Susan Neuhausen
    • Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of California
  • Charmaine Kim-Sing
    • British Columbia Cancer Agency
  • Mark Robson
    • Clinical Genetics, Department of MedicineMemorial-Sloan Kettering
  • Susan Domchek
    • Departments of Medicine and GeneticsUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • Claudine Isaacs
    • Lombardi Cancer CenterGeorgetown University Medical Center
  • Jan Klijn
    • Department of Medical Oncology, (Dr. Daniel den Hoed Kliniek) Rotterdam Cancer InstituteUniversity Hospital Rotterdam
  • Susan Armel
    • Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity Health Network
  • William D. Foulkes
    • Program in Cancer Genetics, Departments of Oncology and Human GeneticsMcGill University
  • Nadine Tung
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital
  • Pal Moller
    • Department for Cancer GeneticsThe Norwegian Radium Hospital
  • Ping Sun
    • Womens College Research Institute, Women’s College HospitalUniversity of Toronto
    • Womens College Research Institute, Women’s College HospitalUniversity of Toronto
  • Hereditary Breast Cancer Clinical Study Group
    • Womens College Research Institute

DOI: 10.1007/s10549-008-9977-5

Cite this article as:
Ginsburg, O., Ghadirian, P., Lubinski, J. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2009) 114: 127. doi:10.1007/s10549-008-9977-5


Among women with a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, the risk of breast cancer is high, but it may be modified by exogenous and endogenous factors. There is concern that exposure to carcinogens in cigarette smoke may increase the risk of cancer in mutation carriers. We conducted a matched case–control study of 2,538 cases of breast cancer among women with a BRCA1 (n = 1,920) or a BRCA2 (n = 618) mutation. One non-affected mutation carrier control was selected for each case, matched on mutation, country of birth, and year of birth. Odds ratios were calculated using conditional logistic regression, adjusted for oral contraceptive use and parity. Ever-smoking was not associated with an increased breast cancer risk among BRCA1 carriers (OR = 1.09; 95% CI 0.95–1.24) or among BRCA2 carriers (OR = 0.81; 95% CI 0.63–1.05). The result did not differ when cases were restricted to women who completed the questionnaire within two years of diagnosis. A modest, but significant increase in risk was seen among BRCA1 carriers with a past history of smoking (OR = 1.27; 95% CI 1.06–1.50), but not among current smokers (OR = 0.95; 0.81–1.12). There appears to be no increase in the risk of breast cancer associated with current smoking in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers. There is a possibility of an increased risk of breast cancer among BRCA1 carriers associated with past smoking. There may be different effects of carcinogens in BRCA mutation carriers, depending upon the timing of exposure.





Breast cancer susceptibility gene 1


Breast cancer susceptibility gene 2


Odds ratio


Confidence interval


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Relative risk


Hazard ratio

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008