Women who smoke, pierce nipples 'more likely to develop breast abscess'

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Washington, August 04 (ANI): A new study has revealed that women who smoke or pierce their nipples are more likely to develop a breast abscess.

Researchers at the University of Iowa found the odds of developing primary breast abscess were six times higher in smokers than in nonsmokers, and smokers were 11 times more likely to develop subareolar abscess.

Breast abscesses were 15 times more likely to recur in smokers than in nonsmokers. In addition, this study is one of the first to provide clinical evidence that nipple piercing is also a risk factor for subareolar breast abscess, with the onset of abscess occurring from one month to seven years from the time of piercing.

"Nearly 60 percent of patients with a recurrence of breast abscess were heavy smokers," said Vinod Gollapalli, MD, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of surgery at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City.

"Since smoking appears to be a strong risk factor for both causing breast abscess and its recurrence, we recommend patients should be counseled to quit smoking as an integral part of treatment."

Using the surgical and radiologic databases at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, researchers identified 68 patients from January 1, 2004, to November 1, 2009, with a diagnosis of breast abscess who did not have a current or previous history of breast cancer, breast radiation therapy, or breast surgery within the past 12 months.

All breast abscesses were confirmed by ultrasound and/or drainage of purulent material. Of the 68 cases evaluated, 53 patients were identified as Caucasian, 43 were smokers and nine had a history of nipple piercing. Thirty-seven patients (53 percent) needed multiple surgical treatments, and of these, 22 were current heavy smokers (smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day). Five patients had developed mammary fistulas; all of these patients were heavy smokers. Age, smoking and the need for surgical treatment were found to be associated with increased risk of recurrence.

The study has been published in the July issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. (ANI)

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