Escalating Instances Of Breast Cancer: A Result Of Xenobiotics In Environment

Published on: 2017/08/27


Rising pollution in the environment is causing inflammation and immune activation, leading to unprecedented instances of breast cancer. This letter aims to raise awareness for reducing pollutant burden on the environment.

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Xenobiotics in environment, Environmental pollution cancer prevention, Cancer

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Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast cells. It affects both men and women but is more common among women. With the increased awareness and research into breast cancer, the survival rates have increased over the years.

Cancer and xenobiotics in environment

Early detection, personalized treatments, and a better understanding of the disease have led to the decline in deaths associated with the disease. Researchers have associated air pollution as one the causes of breast cancer. Xenobiotics present in the air, impact on the breast tissues leading to mutation of cells causing cancer.

What are xenobiotics?

Xenobiotics come from the Greek word ‘xeno’, which means foreign and ‘biotics’ that means pertaining to life. Xenobiotics basically are foreign compounds that are not normally a part of an organism or its nutrition. Some examples of xenobiotics in the environment would be drugs/medicines, food additives, and pollutants.

The human body normally eliminates these xenobiotics from the body after metabolism through excretion. The breakdown of drugs in the body is done by enzymes during metabolism. Xenobiotics are not naturally found in nature and some compounds are non-degradable in nature.

Environmental pollution & xenobiotics

Xenobiotics are highly toxic and pose a threat to the existence of lower level organisms. In humans, it is related to skin problems, reproduction, and is also a cause for cancer. These are persistent and stay in the environment for long, eventually making their way into the food chain.

Xenobiotics have to pass through the process of metabolism, without which they become toxic. Xenobiotics have been found in breast milk and are potentially dangerous compounds to pass on to infants. They can cause DNA damage, which may result in infertility. Occupational hazards and environmental exposure have led to hormonal disruptions. Xenobiotics can also seriously affect the cardiac system.

Low income and minority communities that are usually located around industrial areas are more susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution than others. These communities live near high-pollution areas like industrial sites, truck routes, and traffic-prone roadways. They are exposed to high doses of pollution and these environmental contaminants have been linked to cancer.

Women living around such areas are at a higher risk of breast cancer. Increased and continuous exposure to soot particles and other xenobiotics in the environment lead to dense breast tissues, which is one of the biggest risk factors linked to breast cancer. Dense breast tissues are more likely to develop breast cancer when compared to normal tissues. Small particles in polluted air lead to inflammation of the breast cells, making it more prone to tumors.

People living in cities are thus prone to it, whether breast cancer runs in the family or not. The link between pollution and breast cancer is seen more in women before menopause, as their hormones are more active and interact more with the xenobiotics in the environment.

Read more – Escalating instances of breast cancer, a result of rising environmental pollution by Dr. Seema Patel