New Telegraph

Nicotine exposure promotes breast cancer spread –Study

Researchers in the United States (U.S.) have said that nicotine promotes the spread of breast cancer into the lung.


A new study published in the online edition of ‘Nature Communications,’ found that nicotine may promote breast cancer metastasis by stimulating N2 neutrophils and generating pre-metastatic niche in the lung.


In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed (primary cancer), travel through the blood or lymph system, and form new tumours (metastatic tumours) in other parts of the body.


The metastatic tumour is the same type of cancer as the primary tumour. Lead study author, Dr. Kounosuke Watabe said: “Our data shows that nicotine exposure creates an environment in the lungs that is ripe for metastatic growth.”


Watabe, is a professor of Cancer Biology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem in the United States.


Nicotine is a chiral alkaloid that is naturally produced in the nightshade family of plants (most predominantly in tobacco and Duboisia hopwoodii) and is widely used as a stimulant. As a pharmaceutical drug, it is used for smoking cessation to relieve withdrawal symptoms.


A total of 1,077 breast cancer patients were included in the study, and the research team found that current smokers and former smokers had a higher incidence of lung metastasis in comparison to never smokers.


Subsequently using a mouse model of breast cancer metastasis, the researchers found that persistent exposure to nicotine generates an inflammatory microenvironment in the lungs.


The researchers found that even after quitting nicotine for 30 days, the incidence of distant metastasis was not reduced, suggesting an ongoing risk for breast cancer patients who are former smokers, the ‘Science Daily’ reported.


“Based on these findings, breast cancer patients should opt for smoking cessation programmes that do not use nicotine replacement products,” Watabe said.


“Furthermore, our findings show that salidroside may be a promising therapeutic drug to help prevent smoking-induced breast cancer lung metastasis, although more research is needed

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