9 April 2010
Women exposed to certain petroleum products and synthetic fibres in their early working lives are at increased risk of later developing breast cancer (Occup Environ Med 2010; 67: 263-69).
A case control study (a study that compares two groups of people — those with the condition and a similar group of people who do not have the condition (controls)) showed that occupational exposure before the fourth decade of life — while breast cells continue to proliferate — elevated risk.
More than 1100 Canadian women who had been through menopause – half of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer and half with other cancers – were interviewed for the study.
The researchers found that textile workers exposed to acrylic fibres had a 7-fold increased risk of breast cancer and nylon fibre exposure doubled the risk. Risk was also increased after early exposure to woollen fibres, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum (including benzene) and certain organic solvents.
Last Reviewed: 09 April 2010