Breast Cancer Risk Higher With Occupational Exposure to Solvents

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Breast Cancer Risk Higher With Occupational Exposure to Solvents
Breast Cancer Risk Higher With Occupational Exposure to Solvents

(HealthDay News) -- Occupational exposure to solvents before first full-term birth may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in certain settings, according to a study published in the June 1 issue of Cancer Research.

Christine C. Ekenga, MPH, PhD, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues examined the correlation between occupational exposure to solvents and breast cancer in a prospective study involving 47,661 women from the Sister Study cohort. Occupational solvent exposure was classified according to baseline data relating to self-reported job-specific solvent use.

During follow-up, 1,798 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, including 1,255 invasive cases. The researchers observed no correlation between the risk of invasive breast cancer and lifetime exposure to solvents (hazard ratio [HR], 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88 to 1.24). 

RELATED: Breast Cancer Resource Center

The risk of estrogen receptor-positive invasive breast cancer was increased for parous women who worked with solvents before the first full-term birth, compared with women who never worked with solvents (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.86). 

Among clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, there was an increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive invasive breast cancer associated with solvent exposure (HR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.07 to 3.73).

"Occupational exposure to solvents before first birth, a critical period of breast tissue differentiation, may result in increased vulnerability for breast cancer," the researchers wrote. "Our findings suggest a need for future studies in this area to focus on exposure time windows and solvent types in different occupational setting."


  1. Ekenga CC, Parks CG, D'Aloisio AA et al. Breast Cancer Risk after Occupational Solvent Exposure: the Influence of Timing and Setting. Cancer Res. 2014;doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-2430.

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