Environmental Link with Breast Cancer

A report issued this week by the Breast Cancer Fund, a national organization working to eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer, presents evidence that toxins in the environment are contributing to the rising breast cancer rate. Contributing factors include synthetic hormones in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and meat; pesticides in food; solvents in household cleaning products; flame retardants in furniture; radiation from medical treatments; and BPA in food containers.

I pay close attention to information regarding breast cancer. My mother and both of my grandmothers battled breast cancer. When my family tested positive for aflatoxins soon after leaving our home, I aggressively pursued nutritional and environmental elimination of toxins with heavy emphasis on aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are recognized as a known carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization.

According to Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog for October 5, 2010:

The report, State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment, is the sixth edition published by the Breast Cancer Fund. “With each new edition of the report, the growing scientific evidence compels us to act to prevent breast cancer,” said Jeanne Rizzo, RN, president of the Breast Cancer Fund. “This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our message is clear: we must move beyond awareness to prevention.”

The report states that a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8—representing a dramatic increase since the 1930s, when the first reliable cancer incidence data were established. Between 1973 and 1998 alone, breast cancer incidence rates in the United States increased by more than 40 percent. Strikingly, the increasing incidence of breast cancer since the 1930s parallels the proliferation of synthetic chemicals. Today, approximately 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered for use in the United States, more than 90 percent of which have never been tested for their effects on human health.

The report’s lead author, Janet Gray, PhD, professor at Vassar College, said that widely understood risk factors for breast cancer such as primary genetic mutations, reproductive history and lifestyle factors do not address a considerable portion of the risk for the disease. “A substantial body of scientific evidence indicates that exposures to common chemicals and radiation also contribute to the unacceptably high incidence of breast cancer,” Dr. Gray said. “This report focuses on these environmental issues.”

The report dedicates several chapters to pesticides, focusing on various studies linking triazine herbicides (atrazine, simazine), organochlorines (aldrin, dieldrin, DDT, heptachlor) and the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D, as well as the link between hormones used in meat production to breast cancer. The report reviews both epidemiologic and animal studies and routes of exposure, with an emphasis on exposure to farmworkers and other vulnerable populations. Toxic synthetic pesticides and hormones are prohibited in organic agriculture.

“At a time when virtually every American has been touched by breast cancer,” said Ms. Rizzo, “we need individual, corporate and government commitment to eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer. Action now means fewer of our children and grandchildren will face the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. We simply can’t afford not to act.”

To read the article in full, click here.

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