Occupational Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors, Carcinogens Associated with Elevated Breast Cancer Risks

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor)–Women with prolonged workplace exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors face higher breast cancer risks, according to a case-control study published in the journal Environmental Health.

The study's findings “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,” reported lead author James T. Brophy PhD, of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG) at Stirling University in the United Kingdom, and coauthors.

Carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals are ubiquitous in some workplaces, and previous studies have found associations between these professions and breast cancer risk, the authors reported.

“Endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, some of which may not yet have been classified as such, are present in many occupational environments and could increase breast cancer risk,” they noted.

The new study, conducted in Southern Ontario, Canada, compared occupational and reproductive histories for 1,006 women with breast cancer and 1,146 randomly-selected community control participants without breast cancer diagnoses. 

“Across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors had elevated breast cancer risk (OR 1.42; 95% CI, 1.18-1.73, for 10 years exposure duration),” they reported.

Subsequent analyses showed that women working in specific industries with established patterns of exposure to carcinogens and endocrine-disruptors had modestly higher breast cancer risks. These sectors included agriculture, bars and gambling establishments, automotive plastics manufacturing, food canning, and metalworking.

Estrogen receptor status of breast tumors also varied between occupational settings, the authors noted.

“Premenopausal breast cancer risk was highest for automotive plastics (OR 4.76; 95% CI, 1.58-14.4) and food canning (OR 5.70; 95% CI, 1.03-31.5),” they reported.

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