Taipei, July 19 (CNA) Research has found that over-exposure to plasticizer increases the risk of breast cancer by 1.9 times, with even higher risk for people with poor metabolism. Chen Chien-jen, vice president of Academia Sinica, the nation's highest academic organization, reported the results of the long-term research program jointly conducted by Academia Sinica, the National Health Research Institutes, National Taiwan University Hospital and other research groups. "Our research team collected urine samples from nearly 12,000 women in seven communities in Taiwan starting in 1991, and traced 128 breast cancer patients, with 251 women in a comparison group, to analyze the metabolic materials in their urine," Chen said. The results show that over-exposure can increase the breast cancer risk by 1.9 times. In the scenario of over-exposure coupled with poor metabolism, the risk is 3.4 times that of an average person. Chen said the research was conducted over a long period of time, with many samples, and is "the most convincing report to substantiate the premise that plasticizer exposure increases the breast cancer risk." In the future, the research will target endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and lung adenocarcinoma in women for risk analysis. On why exposure to plasticizer increases the cancer risk, Chen said the medical sector has speculated that excessive doses of plasticizers entering the human body will destroy the balance of hormones, causing breast cells to become abnormal and cancerous, or it could be because plasticizers produce large amounts of oxidation during metabolism, causing gene transformation. He noted that the number of breast cancer patients has climbed in recent years, with the occurrence rate among women aged under 50 similar to that of Europe and the United States. He also pointed out that factors related to breast cancer include excessive consumption of animal fat, late pregnancy and breastfeeding, early menstruation, as well as the exposure to environmental hormones. He said that plasticizers are all around us in our daily lives, including in toys, cables and shower curtains. In normal situations, the metabolic material is released via the kidneys in 24-48 hours, so that the risk of over-exposure is small. He suggested more water consumption and exercise, and said that women should have regular physical checkups for early detection. According to the list of the top 10 causes of death in 2013 published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, cancer was top for the 32nd year.
Among the cancer mortalities, breast cancer was ranked fourth, with the average age of death at 58 years. A total of 1,962 women died of breast cancer in 2013. (By Lung Pei-ning and Lilian Wu)