Breast cancer is the second-most common type of cancer among women, with 1 in 8 women in the United States being diagnosed at some point in their lives. While there are many different natural risk factors that can cause men and women to develop breast cancer, there are also environmental factors that can also play a big role.
Natural factors can include gender, age, race, or family medical history, and environmental factors include exposure to ionizing and nonionizing radiation, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals. While the link between asbestos and breast cancer appears to be thin, some studies have found a potential link between the two.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogen, which is a substance that causes cancer in living tissue. Asbestos has been linked to other forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, but its correlation to breast cancer has been uncertain thus far.
How Could Asbestos Link to Breast Cancer?
Researchers have found an elevated number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer who have been exposed to asbestos fibers, but how those fibers directly affect breast tissue has yet to be determined. While there have been studies to try and find the correlation between asbestos exposure and breast cancer, the main issue researchers have is the ability to achieve “statistical significance,” which means there were not enough women participating in the study to make it statistically conclusive.
Many researchers hypothesize that the asbestos fibers could reach the breast tissue in one of two ways:
- Through retrograde lymphatic flow from the lungs to the chest wall
- piercing the lungs and pass through the muscles that cover the chest wall, eventually reaching the breast tissue
Evidence to prove that there is a link between breast cancer and asbestos is very limited, so to come to a solid conclusion that the two are linked would require more research. If you would like to learn more about the studies that have been performed on asbestos and its possible link to breast cancer, you can do so here, and you can also read more about the study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer here.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, or have just finished undergoing treatment, Pink Ribbons Memphis is a great place to come and feel at home. Visit our storefront today, or like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on what we’re up to!