Perceptions of risk factors for breast cancer and attitudes toward mammography among women who are current, ex- and non-smokers

Women Health. 2002;36(3):65-82. doi: 10.1300/J013v36n03_05.


Understanding risk perceptions for breast cancer among women smokers is important because smokers tend to underutilize breast cancer screening. Perceptions of the relative importance of a variety of factors which may increase breast cancer risk and the benefits/barriers of mammography, were examined among women who were current (n = 185), ex- (n = 632) and never (n = 623) smokers. Participants were a subset of women taking part in a project to increase mammography utilization among women aged 50 and over. Current smokers, but not ex-smokers, were significantly less likely than never smokers to agree that health risk behaviors most frequently seen in smokers (e.g., smoking cigarettes, high-fat diet, low intake of fruits and vegetables, physical inactivity, drinking alcohol) may increase risk for breast cancer. Current smokers, but not ex-smokers, perceived more barriers and fewer benefits of mammography, than never smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Women's Health