Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Risk of premenopausal breast cancer in association with occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and benzene
Petralia, S. A., Vena, J. E., Freudenheim, J. L., Dosemeci, M., Michalek, A., Goldberg, M. S., Brasure, J., Graham, S. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Heal. 1999. 25:3, 215-21.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - PAH, benzene
Study design
Population based case-control study
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Number of Controls
Controls: 371
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Cases were incident primary breast cancers in premenopausal women aged 40 year or older in Erie and Niagara counties in New York. Referents selected from department of motor vehicles records.
Exposures investigated
Job-exposure matrix for PAH and benzene; lifetime occupational history. Occupational and industry codes scored zero to 3 (high) for probability and intensity of exposure. Intensity based on level of exposure and frequency of use.
Ethnic groups with separate analysis
If this study provided a separate analysis by ethnic or racial group, the groups are listed here.
Confounders considered
Other breast cancer risk factors, such as family history, age at first birth, and hormone replacement therapy use, that were taken into account in the study.
Age at first live birth, history of benign breast disease, months of lactation, family history, age, education, Quetelet index, age at menarche
Genetic characterization included
If the study analyzed relationships between environmental factors and inherited genetic variations, this field will be marked “Yes.” “No”, if not.
Description of major analysis
Unconditional logistic regression
Strength of associations reported
Selected results Adjusted OR (95% CI)
Ever exposed
PAH: 1.82 (1.02-3.16)
Benzene 1.91 (1.18-3.08)
PAH and benzene 2.01 (1.08-3.75)

ER-positive cases
PAH: 2.27 (1.14-4.54)
Benzene 2.29 (1.27-4.13)
PAH and benzene 2.54 (1.28-5.04)

Few women were exposed to PAH exclusively without benzene exposure.
ORs are lower and CIs include one for ER-negative cases.
For benzene, evidence of dose response for duration and probability of exposure, but not average intensity. For PAH, evidence of dose response for probability of exposure.
Author address
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, United States. sp126i@nih.com