Breast Cancer Possibly Linked to Air Pollution


Photo: Flickr, CC
"Women living in the areas with the highest levels of pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer"
A study recently published by researchers based in Montréal, Canada, has found a worrying correlation between markers for air pollution and breast cancer. The scientists used detailed historical air-pollution map tracking nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a good marker for air quality, and the home addresses of women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 1996-97 -- something that hadn't been done before.

"Across Montreal, levels of NO2 varied between 5 ppb to over 30 ppb. We found that risk increased by about 25 per cent with every increase of NO2 of five parts per billion. Another way of saying this is that women living in the areas with the highest levels of pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those living in the least polluted areas."

This doesn't necessarily mean that NO2 causes breast cancer, either directly or indirectly. Correlation does not imply causation. Various other pollutants are usually found where high NO2 levels are found (which is why it's a good marker). And if air pollution turns out to be a contributing factor to breast cancer, it does mean that it's the main one.

Further study is definitely required, but this is a good first step, giving us more information so we know where to look next. It also gives us one more reason to clean up the air (as if we didn't already have enough)...

Via Science Daily
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Tags: Air Pollution | Canada | Montreal

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