The aetiology of breast cancer is multifactorial. While there are known genetic predispositions to the disease it is probable that environmental factors are also involved. Recent research has demonstrated a regionally specific distribution of aluminium in breast tissue mastectomies while other work has suggested mechanisms whereby breast tissue aluminium might contribute towards the aetiology of breast cancer. We have looked to develop microwave digestion combined with a new form of graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry as a precise, accurate and reproducible method for the measurement of aluminium in breast tissue biopsies. We have used this method to test the thesis that there is a regional distribution of aluminium across the breast in women with breast cancer. Microwave digestion of whole breast tissue samples resulted in clear homogenous digests perfectly suitable for the determination of aluminium by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. The instrument detection limit for the method was 0.48 μg/L. Method blanks were used to estimate background levels of contamination of 14.80 μg/L. The mean concentration of aluminium across all tissues was 0.39 μg Al/g tissue dry wt. There were no statistically significant regionally specific differences in the content of aluminium. We have developed a robust method for the precise and accurate measurement of aluminium in human breast tissue. There are very few such data currently available in the scientific literature and they will add substantially to our understanding of any putative role of aluminium in breast cancer. While we did not observe any statistically significant differences in aluminium content across the breast it has to be emphasised that herein we measured whole breast tissue and not defatted tissue where such a distribution was previously noted. We are very confident that the method developed herein could now be used to provide accurate and reproducible data on the aluminium content in defatted tissue and oil from such tissues and thereby contribute towards our knowledge on aluminium and any role in breast cancer.
Keywords: Aluminium; Breast cancer; Microwave digestion; THGA AAS.
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