Air Pollution and Breast Cancer: a Review
Purpose of Review
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among US women. Air pollution is a pervasive mixture of chemicals containing carcinogenic compounds and chemicals with endocrine-disrupting properties. In the present review, we examine the epidemiologic evidence regarding the association between air pollution measures and breast cancer risk.
We identified 17 studies evaluating the risk of breast cancer associated with air pollution. A higher risk of breast cancer has been associated with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels, both of which are proxies for traffic exposure. However, there is little evidence supporting a relationship for measures of traffic count or distance to nearest road, or for measures of particulate matter (PM), except potentially for nickel and vanadium, which are components of PM10. Hazardous air toxic levels and sources of indoor air pollution may also contribute to breast cancer risk. There is little existing evidence to support that the relationship between air pollution and breast cancer risk varies by either menopausal status at diagnosis or combined tumor hormone receptor subtype defined by the estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR).
Epidemiologic evidence to date suggests an association between breast cancer risk and NO2 and NOx, markers for traffic-related air pollution, although there was little evidence supporting associations for proxy measures of traffic exposure or for PM. More research is needed to understand the role of specific PM components and whether associations vary by tumor receptor subtype and menopausal status at diagnosis.
KeywordsAir pollution Breast cancer Particulate matter Vehicular traffic Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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