Work Chemicals May Up Breast Cancer Risk

MONTREAL, April 1 (UPI) — A Canadian study found occupational exposure to synthetic fibers and petroleum products may increase a woman’s breast cancer risk, researchers say.

France Labreche of the Occupational Health Research Institute in Montreal suggests exposure to workplace chemicals and pollutants — synthetic fibers and petroleum products may increase breast cancer risk the most — before a woman reaches her mid-30s could triple her risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.


The study involves more than 1,100 post-menopausal women, 556 of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996-1997 in Montreal, when they were between the ages 50-75. More than 600 women acted as a control group.

A team of chemists and industrial hygienists investigated the women’s exposure to some 300 different workplace substances.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, finds women exposed at work to acrylic fibers had a seven-fold risk of breast cancer, while those exposed to nylon fibers had double the risk.

The researchers say their findings could be due to chance, but the findings are consistent with the theory that breast tissue is more sensitive to harmful chemicals before a woman reaches her 40s.

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