Enlisted women in the US army who are occupationally exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have an increased risk of breast cancer, researchers report in the September issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
"Breast cancer is a complex disease that appears to have environmental, genetic, and hormonal components that are not fully understood," lead investigator Dr. Christopher P. Rennix said in an interview with Reuters Health. "As our ability to measure and assess environmental exposure on the individual level improves, the role the environment plays in the risk for breast cancer will become clearer."
In particular, Dr. Rennix, of the Navy Environmental Health Center, Portsmouth, Virginia and colleagues examined the risk of breast cancer among active duty women enlisted in the Army who were occupationally exposed to VOCs. The team calculated age-adjusted incidence rates for breast cancer in 274,596 women who served in the Army between 1980 and 1996. An Army industrial hygiene survey database was used to identify 21 VOCs that had a potential risk of breast cancer.
A total of 184 cases of invasive breast cancer were identified. Women younger than 35 years of age, especially black women, had a significantly higher incidence of breast cancer compared to age-specific rates in the general population.
Moreover, compared to women with low to no exposure potential, women who worked in occupations with moderate to high exposure potential to at least one VOC had a 48% increased risk (p < 0.05) of breast cancer.
Am J Ind Med 2005;48:157-167.
Thanks to Reuters
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