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Journal of Toxicology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 159619, 8 pages
Research Article

Metals and Breast Cancer: Risk Factors or Healing Agents?

1Department of Neuropathology, Heinrich-Heine University, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
2Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Qatar Foundation, Education City, P.O. Box 24144, Doha, Qatar

Received 21 April 2011; Accepted 24 May 2011

Academic Editor: David O. Carpenter

Copyright © 2011 Ana-Maria Florea and Dietrich Büsselberg. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Metals and metal compounds are part of our environment. Several metals are essential for physiological functions (e.g., zinc or magnesium); while the beneficial effects of others are uncertain (e.g., manganese), some metals are proven to be toxic (e.g., mercury, lead). Additionally there are organic metal compounds; some of them are extremely toxic (e.g., trimethyltin, methylmercury), but there is very little knowledge available how they are handled by organisms. Scientific evidence indicates that long-term exposure to (some) metallic compounds induces different forms of cancer, including breast cancer. On the other side, several metal compounds have clinical use in treating life-threatening diseases such as cancer. In this paper we discuss the recent literature that shows a correlation between metal exposure and breast cancer.