Women living in heavily polluted areas face 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer, study warns
- Around 55,000 British women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year
- Scientists claim that breathing pollution can increase the risk of breast cancer
Women living in heavily polluted cities are even more at risk of developing breast cancer than previously thought, a study has found.
Previous research claimed that people in urban areas were eight percent more likely to get the disease than women in rural areas – believed to be caused by the dirty air entering the bloodstream.
But these figures may have downplayed the problem, according to French data, which claims the real increase in an average European city could actually be 28 percent.
British experts say urgent research is now needed to find out which pollution particles cause cancer and what can be done to limit exposure to them.
“It is of great concern that small airborne pollutants, and even microplastic particles of similar size, are released into the environment when we do not yet understand their potential to promote cancer,” said Prof. Charles Swanton, deputy clinical director of the Franciscus Crick Institute in London.
Women living in heavily polluted cities are even more at risk of developing breast cancer than previously thought, a study has found
Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year
‘There is an urgent need for laboratory studies to investigate the effects of these small air pollutant particles.’
Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age – around eight in 10 cases occur in women over 50. Some are at greater risk of developing breast cancer if a family member has also had the disease, and research shows that obesity and alcohol intake can increase the chances. , at.
In September, the US National Institutes of Health published a study showing that living in polluted areas led to a small increase in the risk of developing the disease. It used data from 500,000 people over a period of twenty years.
But last week, French researchers from Lyon argued at the European Society of Medical Oncology conference that this study – and others like it – had failed to address pollution where women worked.
Their study looked at the health records of nearly 6,000 women between 1990 and 2011. The researchers then compared the number of breast cancer diagnoses with the pollution levels in the areas where these women lived and worked.
“Our data showed a significant association between long-term exposure to fine particle air pollution – at home and at work – and the risk of breast cancer,” said Prof. Beatrice Fervers, cancer prevention expert at the Leon Berard Comprehensive Cancer Center. ‘This contrasts with previous research that only looked at exposure to fine particles where women lived, and found small or no effects on breast cancer risk.’
Experts believe that air pollution particles increase the risk of cancer by entering the lungs and then the bloodstream.
‘From there they are absorbed into the breasts,’ explains Prof Swanton.