Occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer in women

Beata Peplonska, Patricia Stewart, Neonila Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Jolanta Lissowska, Louise A. Brinton, Jan Piotr Gromiec, Slawomir Brzeznicki, Xiaohong R. Yang, Mark Sherman, Montserrat García-Closas, Aaron Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Although studies in rodents suggest possible associations between exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer, the evidence in humans is limited. Methods: We evaluated job histories of 2383 incident breast cancer cases diagnosed during 2000-2003, and 2502 controls who participated in a large population-based case-control study in Poland. Industrial hygienists reviewed occupational histories and developed exposure metrics for total organic solvents and benzene. Unconditional logistic regression analyses estimated ORs and 95% CIs as the measure of association with breast cancer, controlling for breast cancer risk factors. Stratified analyses examined the potential modification by known breast cancer risk factors. Associations were also evaluated by oestrogen and progesterone receptor status and by other clinical characteristics of the tumours using polytomous regression analyses. Results: Women who ever worked at jobs with organic solvents exposure had a small, non-significant increase in breast cancer risk (OR=1.16; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.4). A significant association was present for oestrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-negative tumours (OR 1.40; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.8), but there was no association with tumours with both positive receptors (OR 0.97; 95% CI 0.8 to 1.2 (p heterogeneity: 0.008)). We did not observe trends with increasing level of exposure. Known breast cancer risk factors did not modify the association between organic solvents and breast cancer risk. No association with breast cancer was found for benzene exposure (OR 1.00; 95% CI 0.8 to 1.3). Conclusion: Our study provides weak evidence for a possible association between occupational exposure to organic solvents as a class and breast cancer risk. The association might be limited to hormone receptor-negative tumours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-729
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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