A recent study suggests that not only does traffic air pollution cause and/or increase the risk of many common health factors, but this study has come to suggest that air pollution also increases the risk of breast cancer. This study was presented by Dan L Crouse, Mark S Goldberg, Nancy A Ross, Hong Chen, and France Labrèche, who based their study in Montreal, Canada, where they all reside. The basis of this studywas to examine approximately 800 patients, half cases and the other half controls. In Canada and the United States, breast cancer has the highest rate in all cancers in women and is the the cancer with the second leading cause of death. This study took into consideration several accepted factors that would increase the risk of cancer such as genetic mutation, family history, personal lifestyles, and much more. To fully examine whether air pollution is a factor that increases breast cancer, the study was directed towards those cases who's causes of cancer were listed as unexplained.
Within the time span of 20 years, the researches created an experiment to determine whether there is a direct relationship between traffic air pollution and the recent increase of breast cancer. To do this, the study was targeted towards postmenopausal women aged between fifty to seventy-five at the time they were diagnosed. At the time of this diagnosis, these patients would have resided in the greater Montreal area, taken from 18 different hospitals to assure that the cases were taken from the whole population and remained unbiased. Between one to three months after the diagnosis, a questionnaire was required for the patients to fill out so that there could be record of the patients' job history, family history, reproductive history, and other personal risk factors which would allow for all other possible health factors to be taken into consideration.
Research shows that there are a higher number of breast cancer cases in urban areas than in rural areas. Vehicle traffic being the main contributor of pollution in urban areas which consists of gases, particles, and much more, many of which are accepted or potential carcinogens. After much study, it was concluded that there was a direct relation between “1000 randomly sampled locations on the different exposure surfaces and observed concentrations of annual mean concentrations of Nitrogen dioxide at the fixed site stations for 1985, 1996, and 2005.” (Dan L Crouse et la 2010). This result suggested that the location of Nitrogen dioxide did not change much over the twenty years. It was found that there was a 25% increased risk of breast cancer for every 5ppb exposure. This result was shocking considering that the location at which the study was done, Montreal, is considered a very unpolluted city according to international standards. Therefore, if one is to compare these results to cities where traffic air pollution is much greater, there would be a definite correlation with the number of cases of breast cancer.
If studies such as these continue to be explored, with evidence and promotion of these works, the general public may increase their desire to care for the world they live in. The fact that such a preventable factor such as traffic air pollution can increase the risk of getting breast cancer, this should be alarming for many people. As easy as it is to tell people to take care of the environment and as easy at it if for them to say that they will, nothing will really progress unless there is true evidence of the reasons one is trying to present. This study is one of at least three different studies conducted within the greater Montreal area and can bring forward alarming new results. Taking into consideration that the results from this study does mainly prove that exposure to some compounds before the age of 36 is more likely to cause a health risk, this implies that the younger generation will be the ones to suffer the consequences and should therefore be pushing for a change to happen. Of course, there have been improvements to help stabilize the environment that is causing us harm, but as it is now, it is not reversing the process that is important, it is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It may be too late for many aspects as it is now, but there are simple things that we can all do as a community, such as reduce traffic pollution, that would be a positive movement into the better good of the future.
By Eliza Solis-Maart