What Living in a Heavily Polluted Area Means for Breast Health

Women who live in areas of high pollution may be more likely to develop breast cancer according to new research.

The study, led by Dr. Lusine Yaghjyan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, looked at 280,000 women between the ages of 40 and older who had mammograms. Each woman’s breasts were either determined to be dense or fatty, and from there, the woman’s residency was classified based on levels of air pollution.

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According to the study, “it appears some of the chemicals that might be in those fine particles [in air pollution] might have properties disrupting normal endocrine function,” Yaghjyan said.

Yaghjyan explained to MedlinePlus that the chemicals triggering endocrine function could potentially lead to an increase in breast cells.

Women with dense breasts are six times more likely to develop cancer. There is also an increased risk of limited early detection because density may impede medical providers or even women during self-exams from spotting a growing tumor.

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A direct causation between breast cancer and pollution has not been proven, but the study suggests that “women who have dense breasts have a 20 percent greater likelihood of having been exposed to smog.”

By Vivian Nunez


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