Breast cancer: the responsibility of certain air pollutants according to the French Xenair study

On Monday 3 October, the Prevention Cancer Environment Department of the Léon Bérard Centre (CLB), the cancer centre for Lyon and the Rhône-Alpes region, presented the results of their XENAIR study. The aim of this large-scale study was to investigate the association between the risk of breast cancer and chronic low-dose exposure to 8 atmospheric pollutants.

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Summary

Breast cancer in figures
XENAIR: the French study that highlights a correlation between air pollution and breast cancer 
10% of cancer cases avoided through improved air quality

Breast cancer in figures

Breast cancer - Number of new cases per year
Breast cancer - 12145 deaths per year
Breast cancer: incidence and mortality

XENAIR: the French study that highlights a correlation between air pollution and breast cancer

Although this is not the first time that the hypothesis has been raised, the Xenair study, financed by the ARC Foundation, has established a link between exposure to pollutants and the development of breast cancer.

This project benefited from the remarkable collaboration of various specialist teams, the Prévention Cancer Environnement department of the Léon Bérard Centre (INSERM Unit 1296), Gustave Roussy (INSERM Unit 1018), the Ecole Centrale de Lyon (CNRS Unit 5509), the University of Leicester (United Kingdom), INERIS and the Bordeaux Population Health Centre (INSERM Unit 1219).

Eight air pollutants targeted

👉 Pollutants with xeno-estrogenic properties : dioxins, BaP, PCB, cadmium.

👉 The pollutants to which the French are exposed daily: : particulate matter (PM10 et PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3).

Five air pollutants implicated in the occurrence of breast cancer

This study was carried out on women from the national E3N cohorte (coordinated by the INSERM team « Exposome and Heredity », Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif)  who have been followed since 1990 on their lifestyle (diet, physical activity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol, use of medication, hormonal treatments, etc.), their environment, their residential history (places where they live and work), and on the evolution of their physical and mental health status.

A case-control study, based on this cohort, composed of 5222 breast cancer cases (diagnosed between 1990 and 2011) and 5222 matched controls (free of breast cancer at the time of the case’s diagnosis), was conducted

Of the 8 air pollutants studied, the XENAIR study implicated 5 air pollutants in the occurrence of breast cancer:

👉 Nitrogend dioxide (NO2) : Mainly emitted by road traffic would increase the risk of breast cancer by about 9%*.

👉 Particulate matter : PM10, from wood heating, would add 8%**, while PM2.5 resulting from road fuels, construction sites and manufacturing industry would increase risk by 13%**

👉 Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) : formed during incomplete combustion of organic matter (open burning of plants, exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke…) increases risks by 15%.

👉 Polychlorobiphényles (PCB153), which emanates from industrial combustions, increases breast cancer by more than 19%.

*For an increase of about 18µg/m3

**For an increase of 10µg/m3 of PM10 or PM2.5

Nearly 10% of cancer cases prevented through improved air quality

Up to 10% of breast cancers could be prevented in France if women were exposed to pollutant concentrations below the current WHO recommended thresholds. By following the European thresholds  (less protective than those of the WHO) 1% of cancers could be prevented.

Improving air quality is essential to prevent disease and could be offset by savings in treatment, care, and cost to society from avoided cancers.

Meersens helps you to prevent the risk of developing cancer. Whether you are a company wishing to act for its employees, a city for its citizens, Meersens can help you by giving you the necessary solutions to make the invisible visible.

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