Women With These Jobs May Have a Higher Risk of Breast Cancer

woman getting radiation breast cancerEvery full-time job comes with its own hazards, be it a coworker with bad breath or having to deal with irate customers. But here's something you probably never considered. According to a new comprehensive study from the Breast Cancer Fund, your job choice may be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.


Researchers combed through years of studies documenting female workers and breast cancer. What they found is that more than 20 occupations put women at a significantly higher risk of developing the disease.

While SOME of the jobs listed in the report seem fairly unsurprising -- factory workers, for instance, or women in the military who are exposed to hazardous chemicals -- others are shockers.

Food and beverage workers have up to 5 times a higher risk of developing breast cancer, for example. Hairdressers and cosmetologists, same.

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Nurses are 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Teachers have double the risk. Doctors, physicians, and other medical workers excluding nurses have up to 3.5 times greater risk. And librarians, journalists, lawyers -- all four times more likely to find a cancerous lump.

The big question, of course, is: WHY? Is it from air conditioning? Frequent contact with plastic? Cleaning supplies? Ballpoint ink?

Unfortunately, not even the researchers have clear answers. "That's part of the challenge," lead researcher Connie Engel, PhD, science and education manager at the Breast Cancer Fund tells us exclusively. "Until we get more sophisticated research, we have limits as to what we can intuit about this data."

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Hopefully, the report's findings will spur more scientists to look into what links all these occupations with breast cancer. "We need to do a lot more research and ultimately put into place stronger regulations to protect not only women from breast cancer, but everyone else from work-related disease," says Engel.

Now, we know what you're wondering. Chances are, either you or someone you love is currently employed in one of these professions. So, what can you do to stay healthy?

For starters, don't panic. If you're concerned about your health or notice any ongoing symptoms, talk to your doctor and make sure it's noted in your health record, Engel says.

If you work overnight shifts (which can cause hormonal changes and has been linked to cancer), be sure that on nights you DO go to bed at a normal hour, you sleep in a fully darkened room. Use protective gear at work when it's recommended, and follow precautions when using chemicals or coming into contact with radiation, even when it may feel inconvenient or unnecessary.

And one more thing: Try not to stress, okay? Studies show that doing so can, well, double your risk of developing breast cancer.



Image via Mark Kostich/iStock

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