While poor air quality has long been linked to heart disease and lung cancer, a new study reveals that residential exposure to air pollution can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
A new study from Carleton University has revealed that young women who live in areas with a high level of air pollution are 30 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer before menopause than women in areas with low air pollution.
Dr. Paul Villeneuve, one of the study’s co-authors helped track almost 90,000 Canadian women over the course of two decades, says the results are “building the evidence that air pollution is indeed linked to the development of cancer.”
Statistically, 82 per cent of breast cancer cases in Canada occur in women over the age of 50, however, there is a growing global trend in breast cancer appearing in women between the ages of 25 to 34.
In an interview with CTV News, Emily Piercell said she was just 27-years-old when she discovered a lump in her breast.
“I was shocked and scared,” she recalled. ” I don’t have any cancer, breast cancer in my family. I’m so young.”
The new study offers a new clue for Piercell as to why she could have developed breast cancer at such a young age without a family history. She grew up in Windsor, Ont. – an are with continuously high levels of fine particle air pollution.
“Pollution is awful for our bodies,” Piercell said. “So to see that link, it’s not surprising to me.”
Piercell has undergone a double mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, and is determined to stay healthy by eating right and staying active.
Researches believe that the harmful particles in pollution can promote inflammation, making breasts denser, and more prone to developing tumours. The research suggests that hormones in women prior to menopause can actually interact with the chemicals, which can lead to breast cancer.
The solution? Reducing air pollution.
Dr. Anthony Miller of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health says there are several things that women can do to lessen their exposure to poor air pollution until air quality can improve on a global scale.
“If you’re living in an area where there is a great deal of air pollution, you should do your best to remove it from your environment,” Miller said. “Keep your windows closed, have good air conditioning with good filters. At the moment, that’s all we can advise people to do.”