Will Air Pollution Increase Your Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Air pollution has the capacity to harm your heart and lungs. However, new research suggests it could also raise your risk of getting breast cancer. This article examines this scientific claim and the best way to protect yourself from breast cancer and other similar conditions.

How Was The Study Conducted?

For the study, the researchers used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. In this group, women were white and had an average age of 62 years. The researchers examined these women for approximately 20 years, during which they discovered more than 15,800 breast cancer cases.

During the study, the research team also estimated annual average historical PM2.5 concentrations for each participant’s residence. They also considered air pollution exposures for 10 to 15 years before enrollment in the study, considering the length of time it takes for certain cancers to develop.

Furthermore, the scientists examined how the connection between air pollution and breast cancer varied by the type of tumor. They also evaluated estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and -negative (ER-) tumors separately, discovering that PM2.5 was linked to a higher incidence of ER+ breast cancer but not ER- tumors. This finding suggests that endocrine disruption plays a role in the occurrence of these breast cancers.

What Were The Study’s Findings?

Researchers at the U.S National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) discovered the most significant increases in breast cancer incidents happened in women who had higher levels of particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) near their home in the years before participating in the study.

How Does This Exposure Happen?

Particulate matter is released through motor vehicle exhaust, wood smoke/vegetation burning, burning oil or coal, and industrial emissions. These particles are small enough to be inhaled deep into your lungs?

What Do The Researchers Say?

Alexandra White, head of the Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group at NIEHS, said the team observed an 8% increase in breast cancer incidents for living in areas with higher PM2.5 exposure. She also said these findings are significant because air pollution is a ubiquitous exposure that affects almost everyone. Alexandra said these findings contribute to a growing body of literature suggesting that air pollution is connected to breast cancer.


According to new research, significant exposure to air pollution can result in breast cancer. If you stay in an area with bad air, it’s important to visit your doctor for a check-up on your health.