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Air Pollution Linked To Increased Breast Cancer Risk

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For decades, we’ve understood that air pollution has a significant negative effect on our health. We also know that indoor air quality, due to concentrated levels, is much more dangerous than the polluted air outside our doors.

Scientific research into the health effects of air pollution has discovered that a link may exist between air pollution and certain forms of breast cancer. The evidence suggests that females are at the greatest risk early in life. They are also at risk again during the birth of their first child because this event alters their DNA, and exposure at this point may make them susceptible to premenopausal breast cancer. 

The study, conducted several years ago by the University at Buffalo in New York, indicated that higher air pollution exposure at birth could alter DNA methylation, which increases E-cadherin levels. E-cadherin is a protein that plays a significant role in the adhesion of cells, and that function is essential to fostering healthy tissue and maintaining a stable cellular environment. DNA methylation is a chemical process believed to dictate the active genes in any given cell. The research demonstrated that women with breast cancer living in regions with high levels of air pollution were much more likely to have the alteration to DNA in their tumor than women with breast cancer who were living in regions with lesser air pollution levels. Scientists also demonstrated a link between high concentrations of air pollution and fundamental changes to p16 during first childbirth. The p16 gene plays a vital role in tumor suppression. According to lead researcher Katherine Dobson, MPH, at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting, this study is the first time researchers have examined exposure to air pollution at vital points in a woman’s lifetime. These “vital points” are periods when alteration to her DNA is occurring, and it is during these changes that exposure to external factors may influence the absence or presence of a critical protein, which may cause cancer.

Dobson’s study used data collected during the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer study. The WEB study collected data from nearly 1,200 women who doctors had recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The study also collected information from nearly 2,200 cancer-free women who lived in the same areas as the women with cancer did. By comparing these two data sets, scientists were able to isolate the most important data points. Participants in the WEB study also provided many details, such as place of birth, if they had children, where they lived prior to childbirth, and first menstrual period. Dobson coordinated this information with data from air monitors operating in 87 Western New York sites during the relevant periods. By excluding the common data points, Dobson and her team were able to demonstrate that the air pollution was playing a role during infancy and childbirth.

HEPA Purification

You can protect yourself and your family by using a portable air purifier with HEPA and activated carbon filtration. A HEPA filter removes 99.97% of all airborne particles including dust, smokemold spores, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, particulates from traffic exhaust and so forth. The activated carbon component removes chemicals, gases and odors. Since most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors, HEPA provides significant protection against particle pollution

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