Findings from the French E3N Cohort Study
A study spanning over two decades within the French E3N cohort has revealed a notable correlation between prolonged exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and an increased risk of breast cancer in women. The research, led by Dr. Beatrice Fervers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center Léon Bérard in Lyon, France, observed that with every 10 µg/m^3 rise in PM2.5 levels, the likelihood of breast cancer climbed by 28 percent. However, no significant connection was found with exposure to larger particulate matter (PM10) or nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The study encompassed 2,419 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 2,984 women without the disease, all part of the French E3N cohort. To estimate annual mean levels of PM2.5, PM10, and NO2, researchers employed a Land Use Regression model, assigning exposure based on the residential and workplace addresses of the participants. The average exposure to these pollutants was calculated by considering the time spent at both home and work.
These findings align with prior research that associates poor air quality with a heightened risk of breast cancer. The study suggests that the genotoxic characteristics of small particulate matter, as well as its influence on breast tissue density and hormonal activities, may contribute to this increased risk.
Dr. Shani Paluch-Shimon from Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, has commented on the implications of this study, stressing the urgency of tackling air pollution through effective public policy measures to enhance air quality. She pointed out that air pollution might have a more pronounced effect on low- to middle-income countries, where access to affordable healthcare is already a significant hurdle.
The study’s outcomes contribute to the accumulating body of evidence that underscores the connection between air pollution and breast cancer risk. It underscores the critical need for public health interventions to mitigate air pollution’s impact, with a particular focus on safeguarding women’s health.