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Breast-cancer risk linked to exposure to traffic emissions at menarche, first birth

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Exposure to carcinogens in traffic emissions at particular lifetime points may increase the risk of developing breast cancer in women who are lifetime nonsmokers, a study by epidemiologists and geographers at the University at Buffalo has found. Their study was conducted among women who lived in Erie and Niagara counties of New York State between 1996 and 2001. They found that higher exposure around the time of first menstruation to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), potential carcinogens found in traffic emissions, was associated with increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer.

However, for postmenopausal women, higher exposure to PAHs at the time of the first birth was associated with increased risk. Neither association was found in women with a history of smoking.

Results of the study were presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research held in Anaheim, Calif. Jing Nie, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions is first author on the study.

"There is growing evidence that there may be times in a woman's life when exposures to potential carcinogens may be critical for breast-cancer initiation and development," said Nie. "Our study findings support the hypothesis that exposures in early life contribute to breast-cancer risk."

The study was based on data from the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) study. All participants were women between the ages of 35 and 79 who lived in Erie or Niagara counties at the time of data collection. Women with primary, histologically confirmed breast cancer served as cases. Controls were randomly selected and matched to cases on age, race and county of residence. Researchers in the WEB study conducted in-depth personal interviews with study participants to collect data on potential breast-cancer risk factors and a history of where they had lived at
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
29-Apr-2005


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