Exposure to workplace chemicals linked to increased breast cancer risk
Certain occupations put workers at higher risk of breast cancer than others, according to a new research.
Women with jobs that expose them to potential carcinogens and endocrine disrupters , such as metal-working, food canning, and agriculture, are more susceptible to the disease, the researchers said.
In their study, James T Brophy and his colleagues set out to characterize the possible links between breast cancer and occupation, particularly in farming and manufacturing.
The population-based case-control study was conducted in Southern Ontario, Canada, and included 1006 breast cancer cases (referred by the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre) with 1147 randomly selected and matched community controls.
Using interviews and surveys, the team collected data on participants' occupational and reproductive histories. All jobs were coded for their likelihood of exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and patients' tumor pathology regarding endocrine receptor status was assessed.
The authors found in this group of participants that, across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disrupters had an elevated breast cancer risk. Sectors with increased risk included agriculture, bar/gambling, automotive plastics manufacturing, food canning and metal-working. Importantly, premenopausal breast cancer risk was highest in the automotive plastics and food canning industries.
The findings also suggested that women with lower socioeconomic status had an elevated risk of breast cancer, which may result from higher exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the lower-income manufacturing and agricultural industries of the study area.
The results lend weight to hypotheses linking breast cancer risk and exposures likely to include carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.
Lead author Brophy said, "Our results highlight the importance of occupational studies in identifying and quantifying environmental risk factors and illustrates the value of taking detailed occupational histories of cancer patients. Mounting evidence suggests that we need to re-evaluate occupational exposure limits in regulatory protection."
The study has been published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health.