A study by the University of Florida researchers suggests that there may be a link between air pollution exposure and breast cancer.
According to a press release about the research, "Women who have higher exposure to fine particulate matter in the air are more likely to have dense breast tissue, a well-established strong risk factor for breast cancer."
The study's analysis included about 280,000 women age 40 and older with no breast cancer history and living in different parts of the U.S. They found that women with high breast density were 20 percent more apt to be living in places where fine particulate matter concentrations are higher.
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The researchers estimated that "for every one-unit increase in particulate matter, women had a four percent higher chance of having dense breasts."
Dr Lusine Yaghjyan, the lead author of the study, said, "Our findings suggest that previously reported geographic variation in breast density could, in part, be explained by different air pollution patterns in urban and rural areas."
Some experts in the field warn that the suggested link between location type and risk is insufficient, notes the Daily Mail.
Catherine Priestley, a nurse specialist with Breast Cancer Care, commented, "Having dense breasts is a known risk factor for breast cancer, so new insight into how this might be influenced by external causes such as air pollution is welcome. However, we cannot look at this in isolation. Breast cancer is a complex disease, and it is not possible to pinpoint any one cause."