Date of Award

8-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Oyana, Tonny

Abstract

This retrospective study assesses invasive breast cancer counts reported at the Illinois ZIP code scale during the study period of 1996 to 2000. The research objective is to evaluate the spatial and statistical associations between breast cancer risk and sources of potential environmental contamination. A thorough literature review illustrates a profound list of cancer risk factors within the study space. Public health principles are utilized to prepare breast cancer incidence for analysis, accompanied with the development of a case/control ecological model. Exploratory analyses suggest that breast cancer intensity is predominantly a rural problem. A generalized linear mixed model is employed, illustrating statistical associations between environmental risk factors and breast cancer risk. Coal Mines, Oil/Gas Wells, and Large Quantity Hazardous Waste Generators, display high statistical significance (p<0.001) in association with increased breast cancer risk. Unique socioeconomic attributes distinguish urban risk from rural risk, as can be seen in a discriminant function analysis. The modeling techniques utilized in this research display classic spatial epidemiological approaches that account for particular types of confounding effects, while also defining zones of disease risk through cluster detection. Results from this analysis are useful for future studies intended to account for epidemiological, clinical, chemical and biological disease-related information.

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