Work Chemical Exposure Linked to Breast Cancer Risk: Study

A recent Canadian study has found that exposure to certain textile and industrial substances could triple the chance that some women develop breast cancer. 

The chemical exposure study, published in the April issue of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine medical journal, found that exposure to acrylic and nylon fibers, and monaromatic hydrocarbons, were linked to high increases in a woman’s cancer risk. The women most at risk were those who were exposed to the chemicals before the age of 36.

Researchers from the National Institute of Public Health in Montreal looked at 1,169 women between the ages of 50 and 75, with just under half of the women diagnosed with breast cancer after undergoing menopause. They found that women exposed to acrylic fibers in the workplace were seven times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who were not exposed. Exposure to nylon fibers doubled the risk of breast cancer.

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Overall, researchers found that for every decade before the age of 36 that women were exposed to the fibers or to crude oil byproducts known as monaromatic hydrocarbons, their risk of tumors tripled.

“Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that breast tissue is more sensitive to adverse effects if exposure occurs when breast cells are still proliferating,” researchers concluded. However, they cautioned that the findings of the study are far from definitive, saying that some findings could be due to chance or an undetected bias.

Additional research has been recommended on the link between chemical exposure and breast cancer.


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