Studying Air Pollution and Breast Cancer Survival

The research question: Does air pollution exposure affect survival after breast cancer diagnosis?


Outdoor air pollution has a wide range of documented health effects. Research has demonstrated that exposure to air pollution can affect the length of survival for individuals diagnosed with lung and liver cancer. Researchers are now turning their attention to understanding how air pollution affects what happens after a breast cancer diagnosis.


This project will evaluate whether outdoor air pollution is associated with survival after breast cancer diagnosis among California Teachers Study participants.


Dr. Sandrah Eckel

Meet the researchers:

Dr. Sandrah Eckel leads this project, and her research focuses on statistical methods and applications in environmental epidemiology and exhaled breath biomarkers. She is an Associate Professor in the Division of Biostatistics of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC).


Dr. Myles Cockburn’s research focuses on cancer etiology and prevention. Dr. Cockburn has worked extensively on elucidating the role of pesticide exposures in hormone-related cancers and Parkinson’s Disease. He is Professor in Preventive Medicine and Dermatology in the Keck School of Medicine at USC.

Dr. Myles Cockburn


What makes this project unique:

Previous studies have reported that women who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution were more likely to develop breast cancer. This project goes a step further and asks, “what does exposure to air pollution do to women after they are diagnosed with breast cancer?” While it would be difficult to design interventions to prevent breast cancer associated with air pollution, focusing on breast cancer survivors and their air pollution exposures provides a potential target for intervention.


Most CTS research relies on the data participants have provided through their returned questionnaires. This project is unique in that it combines the individual-level information participants have given us with environmental exposures that are measured at various physical locations. By combining valuable participant information with direct measurements of air pollution and the environment, researchers can better understand how these elements affect health together.

The questionnaire answers used:

This analysis project will use participant answers from Questionnaires 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.


Questionnaire 1

- Alcohol use

- Employment status

- Family history of cancer

- Personal health history

- Physical activity

- Race

- Reproductive history, menopausal status, use of hormone therapy

- Smoking status

- Vitamin use

- Weight and height

Questionnaire 2

- Personal health history

- Secondhand smoke exposure

Questionnaire 3

- Marital status

- Personal health history

- Reproductive history, menopausal status, use of hormone therapy

Questionnaire 4

- Alcohol use

- Education level

- Family health history

- Healthcare access and insurance status

- Household income

- Personal health history

- Reproductive history, menopausal status, use of hormone therapy

- Weight and height

Questionnaire 5

- Employment status

- Marital status

- Physical activity

- Reproductive history, menopausal status, use of hormone therapy

- Weight and height

Biomedical Research Center, Cubicle 2016.04

1218 S. Fifth Ave.

Monrovia, California 91016

calteachersstudy@coh.org

(800) 568-9471

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