Niosh study links ethylene oxide and breast cancer

Thursday, 29 January, 2004

A US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study suggests an association between occupational exposure to ethylene oxide (EtO), a disinfecting agent, and increased risk of breast cancer in women. The study of 7578 women found that those at the highest levels of exposure had a nearly twofold increase over the normal incidence of the disease.

NIOSH anticipates that results of the study will help scientists design further research needed to establish a definitive link. Although EtO has been classified as a potential occupational carcinogen for many years and has been associated in past studies with mammary tumours in animals, human evidence was limited. The study is reported in the journal Cancer Causes & Control 14, no. 6 (2003): 531-39.

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