Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Air pollution linked to breast cancer, study suggests

Date:
October 7, 2010
Source:
McGill University Health Centre
Summary:
Air pollution has already been linked to a range of health problems. Now, a ground-breaking new study suggests pollution from traffic may put women at risk for another deadly disease. The study links the risk of breast cancer -- the second leading cause of death from cancer in women -- to traffic-related air pollution.

Air pollution has already been linked to a range of health problems. Now, a ground-breaking new study suggests pollution from traffic may put women at risk for another deadly disease. The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, by researchers from The Research Institute of the MUHC (RI MUHC; Dr. Mark Goldberg), McGill University (Drs. Goldberg, Dan Crouse and Nancy Ross), and Université de Montréal (Dr. France Labrèche), links the risk of breast cancer -- the second leading cause of death from cancer in women -- to traffic-related air pollution.

"We've been watching breast cancer rates go up for some time, "says study co-author Dr. Mark Goldberg, a researcher at The RI MUHC. "Nobody really knows why, and only about one third of cases are attributable to known risk factors. Since no-one had studied the connection between air pollution and breast cancer using detailed air pollution maps, we decided to investigate it."

Dr. Goldberg and his colleagues approached the problem by combining data from several studies. First, they used the results of their 2005-2006 study to create two air pollution "maps" showing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a by-product of vehicular traffic, in different parts of Montreal in 1996 and 10 years earlier in 1986.

Then, they charted the home addresses of women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 1996-97 study onto the air pollution maps. Their findings were startling. The incidence of breast cancer was clearly higher in areas with higher levels of air pollution.

"We found a link between post-menopausal breast cancer and exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a 'marker' for traffic-related air pollution," says Dr. Goldberg. "Across Montreal, levels of NO2 varied between 5 ppb to over 30 ppb. We found that risk increased by about 25 per cent with every increase of NO2 of five parts per billion. Another way of saying this is that women living in the areas with the highest levels of pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those living in the least polluted areas."

These disturbing results must be interpreted with great caution, warns Dr. Goldberg. "First of all, this doesn't mean NO2 causes breast cancer," he explains. "This gas is not the only pollutant created by cars and trucks, but where it is present, so are the other gases, particles and compounds we associate with traffic -- some of which are known carcinogens. NO2 is only a marker, not the actual carcinogenic agent."

A study of this kind can be subject to unknown errors. While the researchers tried to account as much as possible for them, areas of uncertainty remain. "For example, we don't know how much the women in the study were exposed to pollution while at home or at work, because that would depend on their daily patterns of activity, how much time they spend outdoors and so on," says Dr. Goldberg.

Dr. Labrèche adds "Some studies published in the US have also shown possible links between cancer and air pollution. At the moment, we are not in a position to say with assurance that air pollution causes breast cancer. However, we can say that the possible link merits serious investigation. From a public health standpoint, this possible link also argues for actions aimed at reducing traffic-related air pollution in residential areas."

The study was a collaborative effort by researchers from the Research Institute of the MUHC, McGill University and Université de Montreal. It was funded by a research grant from the Canadian Cancer Society and another one from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University Health Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dan L. Crouse, Mark S. Goldberg, Nancy A. Ross, Hong Chen, France Labr?che. Postmenopausal Breast Cancer is Associated with Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution in Montreal, Canada: A Case-Control Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002221

Cite This Page:

McGill University Health Centre. "Air pollution linked to breast cancer, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006104003.htm>.
McGill University Health Centre. (2010, October 7). Air pollution linked to breast cancer, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006104003.htm
McGill University Health Centre. "Air pollution linked to breast cancer, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006104003.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wildfire Hits California's Angeles National Forest

Wildfire Hits California's Angeles National Forest

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 17, 2014) — A wildfire sweeps across the Angeles National Forest prompting campers to quickly leave as officials began evacuating the area -- local media. Gavino Garay reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Symphony Performs at Southern Utah's Red Rocks

Symphony Performs at Southern Utah's Red Rocks

AP (Aug. 16, 2014) — The Utah Symphony hopes to complement the beauty of Utah's soaring red rocks and canyons with free desert performances near Utah's national parks this weekend. (Aug. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins