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Provocative new Montreal study probes link between breast cancer and air pollution
Date:10/6/2010

bout 25 per cent with every increase of NO2 of five parts per billion. Another way of saying this is that women living in the areas with the highest levels of pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those living in the least polluted areas."

These disturbing results must be interpreted with great caution, warns Dr. Goldberg. "First of all, this doesn't mean NO2 causes breast cancer," he explains. "This gas is not the only pollutant created by cars and trucks, but where it is present, so are the other gases, particles and compounds we associate with traffic some of which are known carcinogens. NO2 is only a marker, not the actual carcinogenic agent."

A study of this kind can be subject to unknown errors. While the researchers tried to account as much as possible for them, areas of uncertainty remain. "For example, we don't know how much the women in the study were exposed to pollution while at home or at work, because that would depend on their daily patterns of activity, how much time they spend outdoors and so on," says Dr. Goldberg.

Dr. Labrche adds "Some studies published in the US have also shown possible links between cancer and air pollution. At the moment, we are not in a position to say with assurance that air pollution causes breast cancer. However, we can say that the possible link merits serious investigation. From a public health standpoint, this possible link also argues for actions aimed at reducing traffic-related air pollution in residential areas."


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Contact: Julie Robert
julie.robert@muhc.mcgill.ca
514-843-1560
McGill University Health Centre
Source:Eurekalert

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