Breast cancer farm work link study too small to be definitive says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

A Canadian study which suggests a link between breast cancer and women's employment history draws on too small a sample to draw any firm conclusions, Cancer Research UK has said.

The study asked over five hundred women with breast cancer questions about their working life and habits. It compared their answers with the answers of a similar number of women who did not have the disease.

The study found that women who had worked in farming, or who had lived less than a mile from a farm, were nearly three times more likely to get breast cancer than people who had never lived near a farm.

"Breast cancer is on the rise in western society," said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK. "But all the available scientific evidence shows that this increase is largely down to changes in lifestyle.

"These include having fewer children later, a decrease in breastfeeding, lack of exercise, higher calorie diets and increased use of hormone treatments like the pill and HRT.

"Scientists have also looked at whether environmental toxins might also contribute to the increase in breast cancer, but have found no conclusive link.

"This study only looked at a relatively small number of women. This is too small a group to be able to draw any firm conclusions about a possible link between occupation and breast cancer risk.

"Nor does it say anything at all about what might be behind the observed increase in risk for some occupations."

The study was conducted by the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers and is published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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