Smoking and alcohol consumption in relation to risk of triple-negative breast cancer in a cohort of postmenopausal women

Geoffrey C. Kabat, Mimi Kim, Amanda I. Phipps, Christopher I. Li, Catherine R. Messina, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Lewis Kuller, Michael S. Simon, Shagufta Yasmeen, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Thomas E. Rohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Purpose: Little is known about the risk factors for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which has a worse prognosis compared to hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. We examined the association of smoking and alcohol intake with TNBC and estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. Methods: Among 148,030 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, 300 TNBC cases and 2,479 ER+ cases were identified over a median of 8.0 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Results: Cigarette smoking was not associated with TNBC, whereas drinkers had reduced risk compared to never drinkers. In contrast, both exposures showed slight positive associations with ER+ breast cancer: for women with ≥40 pack-years of smoking, the HR was 1.24, 95% CI 1.06-1.44; for women consuming ≥7 servings of alcohol per week, the HR was 1.26, 95% CI 1.06-1.50. Intakes of wine and hard liquor were also significantly positively associated with ER+ breast cancer. Conclusions: These findings from a large cohort of postmenopausal women suggest that smoking and alcohol consumption are not associated with increased risk of TNBC, but may be modestly associated with increased risk of ER+ breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-783
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Estrogen receptor-positive
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Triple-negative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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