The Link Between These Everyday Chemicals and Breast Cancer Risk Just Got Stronger
Exposure to certain chemicals in household and industrial products is a significant risk factor for breast cancer, according to a new review, especially when the exposure occurs at an early age.
Scientists have been studying the link between breast cancer and environmental exposures—to chemicals in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the products we use on a daily basis—for many years. In 2007, a widely cited review from the Silent Spring Institute identified 216 such chemicals that cause mammary tumors in animals, providing a roadmap for future studies in humans.
A decade later, Silent Spring scientists have published an update in the journalEnvironmental Research, and they say that the evidence today—including documented effects in people of all ages—is stronger than ever. They hope their report will help shape prevention strategies and increase public awareness as breast cancer rates continue to rise worldwide.
For the new review, researchers identified and analyzed 158 studies, with human participants, published between 2006 and 2016. “We wanted to pair the human studies with what had been found in the lab and in animal studies, and see how much their findings were similar,” says lead author Kathryn Rodgers, a research scientists at Silent Spring.
In many cases, says Rodgers, they were. The researchers concluded that exposure to certain chemicals in the womb, during puberty, and through pregnancy all increase the risk of developing breast cancer later on. “During these periods, the body is changing and cells are dividing quickly, and the breasts are very sensitive and vulnerable to environmental chemicals,”