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Breast Cancer Res. 2019 Feb 13;21(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s13058-019-1110-7.

Airborne metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in relation to mammographic breast density.

Author information

1
Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709-2233, USA. alexandra.white@nih.gov.
2
Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.
3
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA.
4
Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709-2233, USA.
5
Departments of Surgery and Radiology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Breast density is strongly related to breast cancer. Identifying associations between environmental exposures and density may elucidate relationships with breast cancer. Metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may influence breast density via oxidative stress or endocrine disruption.

METHODS:

Study participants (n = 222,581) underwent a screening mammogram in 2011 at a radiology facility in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Zip code residential levels of airborne PAHs and metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, and selenium) were assessed using the 2011 EPA National Air Toxics Assessment. Breast density was measured using the Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) lexicon. Logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the individual air toxics and dense breasts (BI-RADS 3 or 4). Weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression was used to model the association between the air toxic mixture and density.

RESULTS:

Higher residential levels of arsenic, cobalt, lead, manganese, nickel, or PAHs were individually associated with breast density. Comparing the highest to the lowest quartile, higher odds of having dense breasts were observed for cobalt (OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.56-1.64) and lead (OR = 1.56, 95% CI 1.52-1.64). Associations were stronger for premenopausal women. The WQS index was associated with density overall (OR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.20-1.24); the most heavily weighted air toxics were lead and cobalt.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this first study to evaluate the association between air toxics and breast density, women living in areas with higher concentrations of lead and cobalt were more likely to have dense breasts.

KEYWORDS:

Air pollution; BCSC; Breast cancer; Breast density; Metals; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

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