Cigarette smoking may be a risk factor for rectal cancer.

Electra Paskett, Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus and colleagues investigated the association between smoking history and colorectal cancer among nearly 147,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative.

After an average follow up of 8 years, 1,242 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Increased colorectal cancer incidence was associated with more cigarettes smoked per day, more years as a smoker, and the age when quitting.

Current smokers were at an increased risk for rectal cancer, but not colon cancer, compared with never smokers.

The authors wrote, "Our data adds to the extensive evidence indicating that preventing smoking initiation and decreasing the duration of smoking might reduce colorectal cancer risk."

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