Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Exposure to Workplace Chemicals Can Increase Breast Cancer Risk, Study Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Exposure to Workplace Chemicals Can Increase Breast Cancer Risk, Study Says

Article excerpt

Workplace can increase breast cancer risk


TORONTO - Women working in certain types of jobs -- mainly agriculture and industrial settings -- appear to have about double the risk of developing breast cancer as women who do other kinds of work, a new Canadian study says.

The work suggests the increased risk is likely the result of exposures to chemicals used in some factory-type jobs and second-hand smoke in entertainment sector jobs, plus shift-work across a variety of these job sectors.

The research was led by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, both of whom have appointments at both the University of Windsor and the University of Stirling, in Scotland.

The study was the result of a multi-year research project funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It is published in the journal Environmental Health.

Brophy said the issue of workplace exposures influencing one's risk of developing cancer is under-appreciated in Canada.

"Nobody is paying attention to this," he said in an interview.

"And I think that's our take-away from this: We need to be much more serious about the kinds of exposures particularly blue collar women are getting. Because they're the most highly exposed population. And if there's an effect, they're a population that literally is acting as the canary in the coal mine."

Canadian regulations on exposure to chemicals such as bisphenol A "are completely out of date," Brophy said.

"They don't reflect what the current understanding of science is."

The researchers looked at women in Essex and Kent counties in southern Ontario, a part of the province where agriculture and heavy industry are found. As early as two decades ago, health officials in the area raised concerns about what appeared to be an excess rate of breast cancer in the region.

In this study, the scientists looked at the workplace exposures of over 2,000 women. Roughly half had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The other half were women who didn't have breast cancer but were similar to the other women in age and other factors. …

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