High Pollution Levels Increase The Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

Ladies, by now you probably know that having highly dense breasts can increase your risk of developing breast cancer by as much as six times.

Breast density is a way to describe the composition of a woman’s breasts. Low breast density means there is a greater amount of fat compared to breast and connective tissue. High breast density means there is a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat.

The diesel and cancer connection

A new study, led by experts at the University of Florida, recently revealed that women who live in cities with high air pollution are at a higher risk of breast cancer… and it all comes down to a link between air pollution and breast density.

The results of this latest study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, found that women with high breast density were 19 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of fine particle air pollution, which is a particular problem in the emissions of diesel cars.

The impact of diesel air pollution on human health has been in the spotlight for a while now. Medical experts have already linked these toxic fumes to diseases like asthma, heart disease and dementia.

However, this latest study is the first time that a specific strong link has been found between breast cancer risk and fine air pollution particles.

For the study, the researchers examined the mammogram scans of 279,967 women and found that for every one unit increase in the particles – known as PM2.5 – a woman’s chance of having dense breasts went up 4 per cent.

Commenting on the findings lead researcher Dr Lusine Yaghjyan said: “Our findings suggest that previously reported geographic variation in breast density could, in part, be explained by different air pollution patterns in urban and rural areas.”

The researchers added that since breast density is a well-established and strong breast cancer risk factor, “future studies are warranted to determine if their observations are causal, which if confirmed may have implications for risk prevention”.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at the charity Breast Cancer Now, added: “This is a thought-provoking finding, however the direct association between air pollutants and breast cancer risk remains unclear.”

It is estimated that toxic fumes contribute to the deaths of 40,000 people in the UK every year. Based on the results of this latest study it looks like toxic air pollution could now also be linked to approximately 11,400 breast cancer deaths recorded annually.

The UK is already notorious for breaching legal limits of air toxins, with 37 cities across Britain persistently falling outside international Air Quality Standards. And health charities, medical experts and environmental groups warned earlier this year that Britain is facing a major health emergency unless diesel cars are taken off the roads.

Professor John Middleton, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said in February: “It is time for diesel to be recognised as the health emergency that it is.”

Catherine Priestley, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: “Having dense breasts is a known risk factor for breast cancer, so new insight into how this might be influenced by external causes such as air pollution is welcome. However, we cannot look at this in isolation. Breast cancer is a complex disease, and it is not possible to pinpoint any one cause.”

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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


Women who live in cities with high air pollution at higher risk breast cancer, major study shows, published online dailymail.co.uk/health, 06.04.17