Does your workplace put you at greater risk for breast cancer? A new study says it just might, suggesting that women working in certain occupations, such as farming, plastics, and food canning, had a greater risk for developing breast cancer than those who worked in other fields.
The six-year study, conducted by a multi-national team of researchers from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., looked at the occupational histories of 1,006 women from Ontario’s Essex and Kent counties who had breast cancer and compared them to 1,146 women of the same age and from the same areas who didn’t. All of the jobs reported were weighted for their likely exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.
After adjusting for other factors such as smoking, weight, alcohol use and other lifestyle and reproductive circumstances, the researchers concluded that women who worked in farming, automotive plastics, food canning, metalworking and at bars, casinos or racetracks increased their breast cancer risk by 42 percent.
The results, published online today in the journal Environmental Health found that women employed in the automotive plastics, farming, food manufacturing, and metalworking industries had an elevated breast cancer risk compared to women working in other occupations. Premenopausal breast cancer risk was five times more likely for women working in automotive plastics factories than women working in the control group. In addition, women working in casinos, bars and race tracks - where they were more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke - were also at higher risk.
Unfortunately, the research team could not identify exactly which chemicals the women were exposed to that led to the increased breast cancer risk as many of the plants the women worked in have since closed and chemical records were not kept.