Air Pollution, a Reason for Breast Cancer!


A new study has discovered that traffic-related air pollution may lead to breast cancer. Breast cancer is considered as the second leading cause of death from cancer in women. The study by researchers Dr. Mark Goldberg of The Research Institute of the MUHC, Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Dan Crouse and Dr. Nancy Ross from McGill University and Dr. France Labrèche from Université de Montréal is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It was funded by research grants from the Canadian Cancer Society and from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Dr. Goldberg and the team of researchers combined data from several studies. They used the results of their 2005-2006 study to create two air pollution ‘maps’ showing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a by-product of vehicular traffic, in different parts of Montreal in 1996 and in 1986.

On the basis of this, they charted the home addresses of women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 1996-97 study onto the air pollution maps. Finally, they reached the conclusion that the incidence of breast cancer is higher in areas having higher levels of air pollution. The team discovered a startling relation between post-menopausal breast cancer and exposure to nitrogen dioxide, reports Science Daily.


The risk of the disease has increased 25 per cent with every increase of NO2 of five parts per billion. The researchers say that the study doesn’t mean NO2 causes breast cancer it is not the only pollutant created by vehicles. But presence of NO2 ensures the presence of the other gases, particles and compounds which cause air pollution.

However, the study accounts for some areas of uncertainty. For instance, it is not sure of the fact that how much the women in the study were exposed to pollution while at home or at work. Hence it is likely to be subjected to faulty conclusions and assumptions.

Though certain studies published earlier in the United States indicate links between cancer and air pollution, this study doesn’t state any assurance that air pollution causes breast cancer.

Despite the study being vague about its inference, it calls for immediate actions aimed at reducing traffic-related air pollution in residential areas.

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