Breast Cancer Is An Environmental Health issue
Dr. Devra Davis, EHT Co-Founder, and President has long championed the issue of environmental factors contributing to breast cancer.
“A substantial body of scientific evidence indicates that exposures to common chemicals and radiation, alone and in combination, are an important cause of breast cancer. The challenge in understanding breast cancer is considerable as the disease can arise decades after critical exposures take place. The disease may well arise from either hormonally active materials or those that directly damage DNA.
Pre-menopausal breast cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer are likely to have different causes. Several classes of environmental factors have been implicated as an increased risk for breast cancer, including hormones and endocrine-disrupting compounds, organic chemicals and by-products of industrial and vehicular combustion, and both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
In its review of “The State of the Evidence,” the Breast Cancer Fund recently concluded that there are major opportunities to reduce breast cancer risk through lowering chemical exposures in many different workplaces.
The fundamental challenge to researchers and policymakers remains this: we seldom can identify specific distinct causes of breast cancer through public health research. Yet every proven cause of cancer in humans has also been shown to cause cancer in animals when adequately studied. Policymakers have agreed that in order to prevent cancer in humans, we should rely on experimental findings.
We cannot wait for sufficient numbers of illnesses or deaths to amass when we already know that certain compounds and professions increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Acting to control or restrict such exposures is critical in order to control disease.”
-Devra Davis PhD, MPH
Please take the time to learn from videos of Dr. Davis presenting on breast cancer, air pollution, pollution, and the environment below.
The film “Exposure” is a documentary film with Olivia Newton-John called Exposure: The Environmental Links to Breast Cancer on early work in breast cancer prevention that is still relevant today. Since pioneering work in 1993 where Dr. Davis and colleagues introduced the term “xeno-estrogens” into the scientific lexicon (Davis et al., 1993), there has been a tremendous growth of activities in both the scientific and breast cancer prevention communities.
These are synthetic or natural chemical compounds that have estrogenic effects on a living organism. They mimic estrogen. Many scientific studies have found hard evidence of adverse effects on human and animal health such as early puberty, significant reproductive system alterations in males and females, and increased cancers. Examples include Atrazine, BPA, DDT, Dioxin, Endosulfan, PCBs, Phthalates, and DDT. The elevated incidence of breast cancer in women has been associated with prolonged exposure to high levels of estrogens and, as we would expect, research shows xenoestrogens that mimic estrogen are associated with higher breast cancer incidence as well.
In the February 2015 “National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals,” the CDC reports that the average person in the United States has over 265 chemicals in their blood and urine. In our daily life, we are exposed to many xenoestrogens. The effect on our body is cumulative, increasing our total body burden.
What is Body Burden?
Body burden refers to the total accumulation of these toxins in our bodies. Our body has self-cleansing mechanisms, but if we expose ourselves to more toxins than our body can eliminate, they will accumulate in our fatty tissue and organs. The greater the accumulation, the greater the stress on our health.
Current government safeguards only look at one chemical at a time rather than our body burden from our cumulative exposure to chemicals and radiation in our environment.
Prevention or Cure?
President Clinton created the National Action Plan on breast cancer and the Department of Defense program on breast cancer that at one point involved $500 million in annual funding for research on this then neglected disease in the 1990s. Since then, major progress has been made in identifying inherited or acquired genetic risk factors and advancing treatment for certain types of breast cancer.
Unfortunately, most money has been spent on finding and treating the disease. Around the world, we lack comprehensive national programs to control, reduce, restrict, or eliminate environmental factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer.[/su_spoiler]
What can I do to reduce my risk?
Prevention is the best medicine. Simple changes in our lifestyle and consumer choices can significantly decrease our exposure to environmental toxins. Get informed, take it one step at a time, and share this information with your friends and family. Read Ten Things you Can Do To Prevent Cancer. Watch the informative videos on this page to learn more.
Equally important -if not more important- is calling on our government at every level to enact adequate safeguards when it comes to chemicals and radiation.
Cornell University Bibliography Environmental Chemicals and Breast Cancer Risk – Why Is There Concern?
For more information on preventing breast cancer please visit:
For much of its history, the cancer war has been fighting the wrong battles, with the wrong weapons, against the wrong enemies. This book shows, decade by decade, how the campaign has targeted the disease and left off the table the things that cause it—tobacco, alcohol, the workplace, and other environmental hazards.