Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 271–280 | Cite as

Cigarette smoking and mammographic density in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort

  • Katja Kemp Jacobsen
  • Elsebeth Lynge
  • Ilse Vejborg
  • Anne Tjønneland
  • My von Euler-Chelpin
  • Zorana J. Andersen
Original paper



Smoking before first childbirth increases breast cancer risk, but the biological mechanism remains unknown and may involve mammographic density (MD), one of the strongest biomarkers of breast cancer risk. We aimed to examine whether active smoking and passive smoking were associated with MD.


For the 5,356 women (4,489 postmenopausal) from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort (1993–1997) who attended mammographic screening in Copenhagen (1993–2001), we used MD (mixed/dense or fatty) assessed at the first screening after cohort entry. Active smoking (status, duration, and intensity) and passive smoking were assessed at cohort baseline (1993–1997) via questionnaire, together with other breast cancer risk factors. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations (odds ratios, 95 % confidence intervals) between smoking and MD, adjusting for confounders.


Two thousand and twenty-six (56.5 %) women had mixed/dense MD, 2,214 (41.4 %) were current, and 1,175 (21.9 %) former smokers. Current smokers had significantly lower odds (0.86, 0.75–0.99) of having mixed/dense MD compared to never smokers, while former smoking was not associated with MD. Inverse association between smoking and MD was strongest in women who initiated smoking before age of 16 years (0.79, 0.64–0.96), smoked ≥15 cigarettes/day (0.83, 0.71–0.98), smoked ≥5 pack-years (0.62, 0.43–0.89), smoked >30 years (0.86, 0.75–0.99), and smoked ≥11 years before first childbirth (0.70, 0.51–0.96). Association between smoking and MD diminished after smoking cessation, with increased odds of having mixed/dense breasts in women who quit smoking >20 years ago as compared to current smokers (1.37, 1.01–1.67). There was no association between passive smoking and MD.


We found an inverse association between active smoking and MD.


Breast cancer risk factor Breast density Mammographic density Cigarette smoking Secondhand smoke 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katja Kemp Jacobsen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elsebeth Lynge
    • 1
  • Ilse Vejborg
    • 4
  • Anne Tjønneland
    • 3
  • My von Euler-Chelpin
    • 1
  • Zorana J. Andersen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health, Center for Epidemiology and ScreeningUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Technology, Faculty of Health and TechnologyMetropolitan University CollegeCopenhagen NDenmark
  3. 3.Institute of Cancer EpidemiologyDanish Cancer SocietyCopenhagen KDenmark
  4. 4.Diagnostic Imaging CentreCopenhagen University Hospital, RigshospitaletCopenhagen KDenmark

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