A team of Scottish scientists have uncovered what could be termed a ‘new occupational disease’, as they have found a group of women whose working condition exposed them to exhaust fumes daily, got breast cancer.
Although the researchers did not whisk away coincidence in their development of the disease which was very close to one another, but Doctors Michael Gilbertson and Jim Brophy, from the University of Stirling in Scotland, believe chemicals in the traffic fumes caused the cancer.
The research published in journal New Solutions and reported on Daily Mail online, has experts view noting that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which try to stop tumours growing, can be shut down by vehicle exhaust fumes.
The scientists also explained that both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce proteins to suppress tumours. When these are mutated, DNA damage can be caused and cells are more likely to become cancerous. The mutations are usually inherited and increase the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer significantly.
While the study further proved that outbreaks of breast cancer represent a new occupational disease, it asserted that these women’s cases revealed working in the toll booths or similar conditions gave them a 16 times higher chance of breast cancer than the average woman.
They noted that past research affirmed that Dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and aldehydes – all of which are found in exhaust fumes – are believed to stop the genes working.
Dr Gilbertson said: “We now have plausible mechanisms for inferring how the BRCA1/2 tumour suppressors in this highly-exposed border guard became dysfunctional and likely contributed to the ongoing epidemic of sporadic, early onset, premenopausal breast cancer among her colleagues.’
“And shift work could make the pollution-cancer link worse, as past research on rats has shown those constantly exposed to daylight developed 60 per cent more tumours and the tumours grew 36 per cent faster”.
The takeaway from the findings for Nigerian women trading on busy roads and shops is for them to get protective masks to always shield them from the daily heavy pollution on Nigerian roads and streets, as the study has warned that working near busy roads triggers breast cancer.