Image source: National Breast Cancer Foundation
The linkage between particulate matter and cancer is well established. For example, in 2012, the World Health Organization identified diesel exhaust, one of the chief sources of particulate matter in many cities, as a carcinogen, and a study last year associated exposure to fine particulate matter with “sharply higher mortality rates from cancers of the breast, the upper digestive tract and other organs.”
New research by University of Florida scientists strengthens the science behind the linkage. Their study of over 250,000 women living in the U.S. found that those with very dense breast tissue, a well-established and strong breast cancer risk factor, are about 20 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of particulate matter.
According to Lusine Yaghjyan, the lead author of the study, this may be caused by toxins delivered by the particulate matter. “Chemical components in particulate matter could influence breast density by interfering with normal tissue growth, thus increasing the amount of fibroglandular tissue in the breast and, subsequently, breast density.”
Learn more about the study here: