Early Environmental Exposure and Breast Cancer Link

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

NOVEMBER 27, 2017

This is an important report from Breast Cancer.org about a report published in Environmental Research. The suggestion is that exposure to certain chemicals in the environment, especially early in life, may raise the risk of breast cancer. Please note that all of the language is careful and no one is claiming absolute causation. It does, however, support the general concern about environmental factors and cancer. This theory has always made common sense if one considers the growing incidence of cancer. Peoples' bodies have likely not changed over the centuries, but the environment has. Of course another important factor is that we are living longer, and cancer is often a disease of aging. When so many people of illness or childbirth or infection, they just didn't live long enough to develop cancer.

Personally I have always wondered about this in terms of my personal cancer history. When I was very young, about 3-6, my father was in charge of the construction of the military's first nuclear power plant. This was long before the days of workers wearing exposure badges, so God knows that came home on his clothing. When he developed a non-smoker's lung cancer and died at 64, we wondered about this. We wondered even more when his successor in the job had an identical experience a few years later. My mother had breast cancer in her 60s, and I have had two. It is an intriguing theory although only loosely related to this report.

From the article:

Study Suggests Link Between Exposure to Chemicals Early in Life and Breast Cancer Risk

Depending on where you live and work, you’re likely to be exposed to a number of chemicals every day. Plastic food and beverage containers, personal care products, sunscreen, cleaning products, and lawn and garden products all contain chemicals. Chemical pesticides are used in many commercially grown fruit, vegetable, and grain crops to protect them from insects, weeds, diseases, and other pests.

A study suggests that exposure to certain chemicals in the environment, especially early in life, is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
The study was published online on Oct. 6, 2017 in the journal Environmental Research. Read “Environmental chemicals and breast cancer: An updated review of epidemiological literature informed by biological mechanisms.”

In 2007, the researchers that did this study published a review paper on the link between environmental chemicals and breast cancer. The review identified 216 chemicals that are linked to mammary tumors in animals and offered guidelines for studying the chemicals in people.

Read more: http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/chemical-exposure-early-in-life-increases-risk

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