Nicotine Binding, Breast Cancer Linked

A researcher in Taipei says nicotine may play a role in promoting breast cancer.

 Yuan-Soon Ho of the Taipei Medical University and colleagues looked at how nicotine acts on the molecular level.

 They find human breast cancer cells consistently produced the alpha 9 subunit of the nicotine acetylcholine receptor — known to promote smoking addiction — and that expression was higher in advanced-stage breast cancer compared with early-stage cancer.

 The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests nicotine binding to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor may also directly promote the development of breast cancer.

 Ho and colleagues studied nicotinic acetylcholine receptor cancer cells by looking at 276 breast tumor samples from anonymous donors to the Taipei Medical University Hospital.

 “These results imply that receptor-mediated carcinogenic signals play a decisive role in biological functions related to human breast cancer development,” the researchers say in a statement.