Research links elevated pollution levels to breast cancer

One in eight women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The chances are higher for people with a genetic risk factor.

But a new study shows that women who live in areas with more air pollution are also at increased risk.


What you need to know

  • A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study has found a link between high pollution levels and an increase in breast cancer rates
  • Particulate matter is the pollutant associated with the increased risk
  • Record high smoke pollution from wildfires in the US this year will remain a concern for years to come

A research team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently discovered this a link between higher pollution levels and an increase in breast cancer cases.

The findings were specific to particulate matter (PM2.5), a type of air pollutant made of microscopic particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. Such particles are typically combustion byproducts emitted from vehicles, power plants and other combustion sources, including smoke from forest fires.

About the study

Using sample information from an NIH-AARP cohort study and historical air quality data, NIH researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) identified a link between exposure to higher levels of PM2.5 levels and incidence of breast cancer.

Alexandra White, Ph.D., NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group leader and investigator, articulates the reasoning behind the study, stating that: “Although air pollution is an established risk factor for lung cancer, we know much less about its relationship with other types of cancer Specifically, our study in the NIH-AARP cohort aimed to understand how previous exposure to particulate matter air pollution, when levels were higher, was associated with the risk of developing breast cancer.

Analyzing data from subjects in six states (including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and California) and two metropolitan areas, Detroit and Atlanta, scientists monitored the levels of particulate pollutants, and the women who participated in the study over a period of 20 years.

During that time, more than 15,000 cases of breast cancer were reported.

A radiologist examines mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles, California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, file)

The study found that the increase in breast cancer incidence was as much as 8% greater for those living in areas with the most PM2.5. While it doesn't sound like much, the increased odds are still enough to link the two.

Even though the study did not exclusively examine the effects on breast cancer survivors and those with hereditary risk, experts in the field weighed in.

“In the sister study, we found some evidence suggesting that people with a A stronger family history of breast cancer may be more sensitive to exposure to air pollution from traffic”, explains Dr. White, who is also involved with the NIHs Sister Studyanother area of ​​research focused on breast cancer.

Emily Tonorezos, MD, MPH, director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, part of the NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, shares that despite the limited amount of research on cancer survivors and particulate pollution, “Not much is known about the risk of [cancer] repetition.”

Unlike other studies of its kind, researchers believed that evaluating exposure in the 10 to 15 years before participants enrolled was an important factor. Researchers have also measured higher levels of particulate matter pollution in previous decades.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) P.M2.5 between 2000 and 2022, concentrations decreased by 42% nationally.

Although cleaner and more efficient technologies implemented over the years are responsible for the decline, unforeseen circumstances can still cause trends to fluctuate.

Blurry health concerns on the horizon?

According to a Climate Central reportthe US saw record high levels of pollution from wildfire smoke.

Record Wildfire Smoke Pollution USA ClimateCentral 2023

(Climate Central)

Some of the country's most populous areas were exposed to dangerous air quality levels for days as smoke from Canada poured in near the ground, raising public health concerns.

Heavy Smoke Canadian Wildfires Amber Haze NYC Shawnie Caslin Martucci 060723 Cropped

Heavy smoke from forest fires in Quebec casts an amber haze over New York City on June 7, 2023. (Spectrum News/Shawnie Caslin-Martucci)

Areas affected by the smoke reported an increase adverse health effects And ER visits as a result. While these short-term effects of smoke are better understood, mapping the long-term effects, such as the development of cancer, is becoming a little fuzzier, so to speak.

Wildfire Smoke Health Impacts 2023

(Climate central)

“This is an emerging problem and there hasn't been any research yet on how wildfire smoke specifically relates to breast cancer risk, although we may want to consider that in the future,” explains Dr. White.

Dr. Tonorezos addresses the unknown impact this year could have on cancer survivors, but mentions that “these types of events are the focus of two current NCI funding opportunities.”

What the future brings

The NIH plans to expand their research into the relationship between PM2.5 and breast cancer in the future. Not only are they interested in further exploring different parts of the country, but they will also try to find out which types of particulate pollutants pose the greatest risk.

Until then, both Dr. White as Dr. Tonorezos the importance of limiting outdoor exposure when air quality becomes unhealthy.

Dr. White recommends: “People who live in areas with higher levels of particulate matter or who are concerned about their exposure levels should monitor their air quality information and consider using this information to make decisions about the time they spend outdoors. spend or to consider the use of masks.”

nyc air quality AP23158808670726 0630

New Yorkers were advised to wear masks when air quality reached dangerous levels on June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Those interested in learning more about current or future air quality conditions, including PM2.5 levels, in their area the EPAs can visit AirNow website.

Our team of meteorologists delves deep into the science of weather and analyzes current weather data and information. To view more weather and climate stories, Check out our weather blogs section.

Related Posts

  • Health
  • May 25, 2024
  • 5 views
  • 3 minutes Read
Hillary Clinton warns seriously about abortion: 'We could have done more to fight'

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized her fellow Democrats in a new interview for their response to the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, arguing that they “could…

  • Health
  • May 25, 2024
  • 4 views
  • 4 minutes Read
Mobile medical clinics bring health care directly to homeless veterans in 25 cities

Join Fox News to access this content Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – for free. Please enter a valid email address. By…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

European banks in Russia face 'an enormous amount of risk', says Yellen

  • May 25, 2024
European banks in Russia face 'an enormous amount of risk', says Yellen

Can blockchain improve weather forecasts? WeatherXM thinks so

  • May 25, 2024
Can blockchain improve weather forecasts?  WeatherXM thinks so

Russia's last missile cruiser in the Black Sea destroyed by Ukraine

  • May 25, 2024
Russia's last missile cruiser in the Black Sea destroyed by Ukraine

Supreme Court Justice Sonia “Wise Latina” Sotomayor Reveals She's “Crying” Over the Court's Conservative Rulings (VIDEO) | The Gateway expert

  • May 25, 2024
Supreme Court Justice Sonia “Wise Latina” Sotomayor Reveals She's “Crying” Over the Court's Conservative Rulings (VIDEO) |  The Gateway expert

Friday's pre-holiday trip breaks the record for most air travelers screened at U.S. airports

  • May 25, 2024
Friday's pre-holiday trip breaks the record for most air travelers screened at U.S. airports

Man United youth stun Man City in FA Cup: goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo lead Red Devils

  • May 25, 2024
Man United youth stun Man City in FA Cup: goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo lead Red Devils

Walmart is ending its credit card partnership with Capital One, but customers can still use their cards

  • May 25, 2024
Walmart is ending its credit card partnership with Capital One, but customers can still use their cards

Jack Smith continues Trump's false claims of FBI assassination plot

  • May 25, 2024
Jack Smith continues Trump's false claims of FBI assassination plot

Key West, Florida, Santorini, Greece and more locations around the world known for their sunsets

  • May 25, 2024
Key West, Florida, Santorini, Greece and more locations around the world known for their sunsets

Entrepreneurship, reality TV and creating success

  • May 25, 2024
Entrepreneurship, reality TV and creating success

Ohio's Republican governor is helping Biden gain access to ballots

  • May 25, 2024
Ohio's Republican governor is helping Biden gain access to ballots