Women taking some occupations with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors have higher risks of developing breast cancer, showed a new study by Canadian scientists.
The study, published Monday in the academic journal Environmental Health, found that specific sectors with elevated breast cancer risk include agriculture, bars and gambling, automotive plastics manufacturing, food canning, and metalworking.
"This really demonstrates that occupational exposure is a very important influence on the rates of this disease," said University of Windsor Professor James Brophy, who co-authored the study.
He added that research regarding occupational exposures and breast cancer risk has generally been a neglected topic.
Between 2002 and 2008, researchers recruited 1,005 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in Essex and Kent counties, Ontario, Canada. They collected data on the patients' occupational and reproductive histories, comparing them with 1,147 control subjects.
Across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors are 42 percent on average more likely to have breast cancer for 10 years exposure duration, according to the study.
Premenopausal breast cancer risk was highest for automotive plastics and food canning, with both increasing risks by about five times, the study showed.
These observations support hypotheses linking breast cancer risk and exposures likely to include carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and demonstrate the value of detailed work histories in environmental and occupational epidemiology, the study said.
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