Scientists from four institutions have brought balance to a recent one-dimensional publication on breast cancer. (Referring to a special section on breast cancer in Science, p1451, March 28, 2014, that focuses exclusively on a genetic factor.) The scientists point out that, although the BRCA gene is highly important, it is not the only factor contributing to breast cancer. In fact, quoting the special section in Science, “Most cases of breast cancer have no inherited component.” Environmental factors are equally or more important causative factors. I quote from the scientists’ letter*.
Three compelling themes have emerged from studies of environmental factors.
- Breast cancer is now recognized as a developmental disease, with windows of susceptibility across the life course, beginning in the womb, during puberty, and early reproductive years, and up to five years before diagnosis.
- Laboratory studies reveal hundreds of common chemicals that activate relevant biological pathways, including:
- Genotoxic chemicals that cause mammary tumors in rodents,
- Hormone disruptors that promote tumor proliferation,
- Developmental toxicants that alter mammary gland development in ways that latter affect lactation and cancer susceptibility.
- Several U.S. reports show that suspect chemicals are widespread in air, water pollution, consumer products, house dust and air, and human tissues.
The letter concludes by pointing out that authoritative reports by the President’s Cancer Panel, the Institute of Medicine, and the Interagency Breast Cancer and the Environmental Research Coordinating Committee support these viewpoints.
You can lower the odds of breast cancer for yourself and your daughters. Use the tips offered in the previous blog post.
* Breast Cancer and Environmental Research, Julia Brody, Ph.D., Executive Director of Silent Spring Institute, Science Letters, Vol 344, May 9, 2014