Menu Close

Exposure to Multiple Sources of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Breast Cancer Incidence


White, Alexandra J.; Bradshaw, Patrick T.; Herring, Amy H.; Teitelbaum, Susan L.; Beyea, Jan; Stellman, Steven D.; Steck, Susan E.; Mordukhovich, Irina; Eng, Sybil M.; & Engel, Lawrence S., et al. (2016). Exposure to Multiple Sources of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Breast Cancer Incidence. Environment International, 89-90, 185-192. PMCID: PMC4818720


BACKGROUND: Despite studies having consistently linked exposure to single-source polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to breast cancer, it is unclear whether single sources or specific groups of PAH sources should be targeted for breast cancer risk reduction.
OBJECTIVES: This study considers the impact on breast cancer incidence from multiple PAH exposure sources in a single model, which better reflects exposure to these complex mixtures.
METHODS: In a population-based case-control study conducted on Long Island, New York (N=1508 breast cancer cases/1556 controls), a Bayesian hierarchical regression approach was used to estimate adjusted posterior means and credible intervals (CrI) for the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for PAH exposure sources, considered singly and as groups: active smoking; residential environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); indoor and outdoor air pollution; and grilled/smoked meat intake.
RESULTS: Most women were exposed to PAHs from multiple sources, and the most common included active/passive smoking and grilled/smoked food intake. In multiple-PAH source models, breast cancer incidence was associated with residential ETS from a spouse (OR=1.20, 95%CrI=1.03, 1.40) and synthetic firelog burning (OR=1.29, 95%CrI=1.06, 1.57); these estimates are similar, but slightly attenuated, to those from single-source models. Additionally when we considered PAH exposure groups, the most pronounced significant associations included total indoor sources (active smoking, ETS from spouse, grilled/smoked meat intake, stove/fireplace use, OR=1.45, 95%CrI=1.02, 2.04).
CONCLUSIONS: Groups of PAH sources, particularly indoor sources, were associated with a 30-50% increase in breast cancer incidence. PAH exposure is ubiquitous and a potentially modifiable breast cancer risk factor.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Environment International


White, Alexandra J.
Bradshaw, Patrick T.
Herring, Amy H.
Teitelbaum, Susan L.
Beyea, Jan
Stellman, Steven D.
Steck, Susan E.
Mordukhovich, Irina
Eng, Sybil M.
Engel, Lawrence S.
Conway, Kathleen
Hatch, Maureen
Neugut, Alfred I.
Santella, Regina M.
Gammon, Marilie D.