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Relationship between particulate matter exposure and female breast cancer incidence and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript



The associations of PM with the risk and prognosis of breast cancer have not been determined. This systematic review aimed to provide an updated understanding of the relationship between PM exposure level and breast cancer incidence and mortality.


Articles from Web of Science and PubMed databases were methodically inspected until March 8, 2020. In final, 15 studies were kept for analysis, which provided necessary information to estimate the impact of PM on breast cancer risk and prognosis. These studies were combined for quantitative analyses to evaluate the effect of per 10 μg /m3 increment exposure of PM2.5 (< 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter) and PM10 (< 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter) using random-effects model.


PM2.5 exposure was associated with increased breast cancer mortality (relative risk [RR] = 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02, 1.16; PQ-test = 0.158). No association of PM2.5 (1.02; 0.97, 1.18; 0.308) and PM10 (1.03; 0.98, 1.09; 0.009) with the increase incidence of breast cancer was observed. Stratified analysis suggested that PM2.5 was associated with the increase mortality of breast cancer (1.10; 1.03, 1.17; 0.529) in subgroup of developed country. PM10 was associated with breast cancer incidence based on studies published after 2017 (1.08; 1.00, 1.15; 0.157) and European studies (1.15; 1.06, 1.25; 0.502).


Our study indicated that PM2.5 exposure was related to breast cancer mortality. Further researches in this field are needed to validate the conclusion.

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Availability of data and materials

The datasets created and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author by reasonable request.



Not applicable


Relative risk


Confidence interval


Standard deviation


Odds ratio


Hazard ratio


Newcastle–Ottawa scale


C-reactive protein




Interquartile range


Estrogen receptor


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We should thank Dr. Junyi Xin for the support of data analysis and revising the article.


This study was supported in part by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grants 2017YFC0211600, 2017YFC0211605), Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Personalized Medicine, and Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (Public Health and Preventive Medicine).

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Authors and Affiliations



QG and XW conducted the literature search and data extraction. QG edited the manuscript and generated the figures and tables, which were revised by HC. HC provided overall supervision. All authors were involved in writing the manuscript and agreed on the final version of the submitted manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Haiyan Chu.

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The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Supplementary figure 1. Flow chart of literature search and selection

(JPG 109 kb)

Supplementary figure 2. Estimates of breast cancer risk in relation to a 10 μg/m3 increment exposure in PM

2.5. CI, confidence interval; RR, relative risk (JPG 87 kb)

Supplementary figure 3. Estimates of breast cancer risk in relation to a 10 μg/m3 increment exposure in PM

10. CI, confidence interval; RR, relative risk (JPG 76 kb)

Supplementary figure 4. Funnel plots on PM exposure and breast cancer risk with pseudo 95% confidence limits. (a)PM

2.5 and breast cancer incidence; (b) PM2.5 and breast cancer mortality; (c) PM10 and breast cancer incidence. (JPG 61 kb)

Supplementary file5 (DOCX 20 kb)

Supplementary file6 (DOCX 31 kb)

Supplementary file7 (FRM 10 kb)

Supplementary file8 (MYD 242 kb)

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Guo, Q., Wang, X., Gao, Y. et al. Relationship between particulate matter exposure and female breast cancer incidence and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 94, 191–201 (2021).

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