Breast cancer among danish women occupationally exposed to diesel exhaust and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 1964–2016

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Objective The aim of this study was to explore the association between occupational exposure to diesel exhaust and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), respectively, and breast cancer subtypes. Methods The study included 38 375 women <70 years with incident breast cancer, identified in the Danish Cancer Registry, and 5 breast cancer-free controls per case who were randomly selected from the Danish Civil Registration System and matched on year of birth. Full employment history was obtained for all study subjects from a nationwide pension fund, and exposure to diesel exhaust and PAH was assessed using a job exposure matrix. Conditional logistic regression was used for estimation of odds ratios (OR) with adjustment for reproductive factors and socioeconomic status. Results No noteworthy associations were observed for overall breast cancer in women exposed to diesel exhaust. However, diesel exhaust modestly elevated the risk of estrogen receptor negative breast tumors before age 50 [OR 1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09–1.46]. Duration– and dose–response relationships were further observed for this subtype in this age group. No notable risk patterns were generally observed for PAH exposure. Conclusion Occupational exposure to diesel exhaust may increase the risk of early-onset estrogen receptor negative breast tumors in women. Future studies exploring this association are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Denmark, Exposure, Female worker, Full job history, JEM, Job exposure matrix, Key terms breast cancer subtype, Occupational exposure, Occupational risk factor, PAH

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