Open Access Research article

Aluminum concentrations in central and peripheral areas of malignant breast lesions do not differ from those in normal breast tissues

Raquel Mary Rodrigues-Peres1, Solange Cadore2, Stefanny Febraio2, Juliana Karina Heinrich1, Katia Piton Serra1, Sophie F M Derchain1, Jose Vassallo3 and Luis Otavio Sarian1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medical Sciences-University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil

2 Department of Analytical Chemistry, Institute of Chemistry-University of Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil

3 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medical Sciences-University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-104

Published: 8 March 2013



Aluminum is used in a wide range of applications and is a potential environmental hazard. The known genotoxic effects of aluminum might play a role in the development of breast cancer. However, the data currently available on the subject are not sufficient to establish a causal relationship between aluminum exposure and the augmented risk of developing breast cancer. To achieve maximum sensitivity and specificity in the determination of aluminum levels, we have developed a detection protocol using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS). The objective of the present study was to compare the aluminum levels in the central and peripheral areas of breast carcinomas with those in the adjacent normal breast tissues, and to identify patient and/or tumor characteristics associated with these aluminum levels.


A total of 176 patients with breast cancer were included in the study. Samples from the central and peripheral areas of their tumors were obtained, as well as from the surrounding normal breast tissue. Aluminum quantification was performed using GFAAS.


The average (mean ± SD) aluminum concentrations were as follows: central area, 1.88 ± 3.60 mg/kg; peripheral area, 2.10 ± 5.67 mg/kg; and normal area, 1.68 ± 11.1 mg/kg. Overall and two-by-two comparisons of the aluminum concentrations in these areas indicated no significant differences. We detected a positive relationship between aluminum levels in the peripheral areas of the tumors, age and menopausal status of the patients (P = .02).


Using a sensitive quantification technique we detected similar aluminum concentrations in the central and peripheral regions of breast tumors, and in normal tissues. In addition, we did not detect significant differences in aluminum concentrations as related to the location of the breast tumor within the breast, or to other relevant tumor features such as stage, size and steroid receptor status. The next logical step is the assessment of whether the aluminum concentration is related to the key genomic abnormalities associated with breast carcinogenesis.

Aluminum; Breast; Cancer; Atomic spectrometry; Biohazard