Report Linking Secondhand Smoke, Breast Cancer Up for Vote
The California Air Resources Board is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to accept findings by the state that secondhand smoke causes an average 68% increase in breast cancer risk, USA Today reports (Ritter, USA Today, 1/26). The decision could lead to additional regulations on cigarette smokers.
The California Environmental Protection Agency analyzed data from recent human studies of women who did not smoke but were exposed to large amounts of secondhand smoke (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 1/26). Researchers also gave more weight than previous studies to animal studies linking secondhand smoke and breast cancer.
The report finds that secondhand smoke increases the breast cancer risk for women younger than 50 by 68%, on average. Some premenopausal women have as much as a 120% increased risk, according to CalEPA.
The report also reinforces existing research linking secondhand smoke to lung cancer, heart disease, adult asthma, premature birth and sudden infant death syndrome.
If ARB regulators decide to classify secondhand smoke as a "toxic air contaminant," it could lead to a ban on smoking in certain public places and in cars. According to USA Today, the board has never rejected findings approved by a panel that reviews CalEPA research since a state law to reduce exposure to toxic air contaminants was passed in 1983 (USA Today, 1/26).
The board will hear public comment on the report before voting. If regulators approve CalEPA's conclusions, the board would be required to decide within three years whether additional regulation is needed (Los Angeles Times, 1/26).
None of the nation's major cancer research organizations -- including the American Cancer Society, CDC and the National Cancer Institute -- has endorsed the CalEPA report. Scientists from these groups say more evidence is needed to support the findings (USA Today, 1/26).
The CalEPA report is available online.