Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Breast cancer risk and exposure in early life to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons using total suspended particulates as a proxy measure
Bonner, M. R., Han, D., Nie, J., Rogerson, P., Vena, J. E., Muti, P., Trevisan, M., Edge, S. B., Freudenheim, J. L. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2005. 14:1, 53-60.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - PAH
Study design
Population based case-control
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Post menopausal
Number of Controls
Controls: 2105
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Residents of Erie and Niagara Counties, NY, in 1996-2001, aged 35-79 years, participating in the Western NY Exposures and Breast Cancer Study (WEB Study). Cases with histologically confirmed, primary, incident breast cancer. Cases under age 65 with drivers' license. Controls under age 65 selected from motor vehicle records; over 65 from CMS records. Restricted to women who were residents of Erie and Niagara Counties at birth, menarche, and when they first gave birth. No previous cancer diagnosis. English speaking.
Exposure Investigated
Exposures investigated
Exposure measures were created for total suspended particulate matter (TSP), indicative of PAH, benzo(a)pyrene, etc. NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation air monitoring of total suspended particulate beginning in 1959 measured TSP every 7 days.
How exposure was measured
Environmental sample GIS/geographic location Other: Environmental model
Exposure assessment comment
Strengths: Benzo(a)pyrene measured in 11 monitors in 1970s was strongly correlated with TSP. History of industrial development weighs in favor of using 1960s measures as representative of earlier years. Limitations: Substantial exposure misclassification is likely due to local/temporal/behavioral factors. Because there are strong time trends in TSP in the region, with decreasing levels after 1970, the distribution of exposures is different in different time periods; though exposures for different time periods are correlated. "Few postmenopausal participants were exposed to low concentrations at birth and few premenopausal women were exposed to high concentrations at the time of first birth" Because TSP levels were high at the time of participants births, there are few women in the referent group. Other unknown factors may be correlated with the geographic distribution of TSP. PAH may not be the most or only relevant constituent of of TSP.
Statistical Analysis
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.
Breast cancer risk factors were evaluated as confounders. Education is included in models. Exposures to PAH and other TSP-related pollutants from sources other than ambient air pollution were not considered and may or may not be confounders. Because so
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 by quartiles of TSP exposure, stratified by menopausal status
Strength of associations reported
Postmenopausal women
High compared to low TSP at birth: OR 2.42 (0.97-6.09); p trend = 0.01. For other time periods, odds ratios are elevated, but statistically unstable.
Premenopausal women
High compared to low TSP at birth : elevated, but statistically unstable OR. For other time periods, odds ratios are not elevated and some are below one.
Results Comments
Lack of association for premenopausal women could be due to lower exposures or shorter lag time.
Author address
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA. bonnerm@mail.nih.gov