Online Program

Environmental chemicals and breast cancer: A review of epidemiologic studies from 2006-2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Kathryn Rodgers, MPH, Silent Spring Institute, Newton, MA
Julia Green Brody, PhD, Silent Spring Institute, Newton, MA
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Incidence rates are increasing globally, and most rapidly in developing countries in the Middle East, central Latin America, and south and southeast Asia. Mortality is also rising in these countries and disproportionately affecting young, pre-menopausal women whose cancers are less responsive to treatment. Poor access to care adds to this disproportionate mortality. These global patterns signal the crucial importance of prevention. To evaluate the possible role of environmental chemicals, which may be avoidable causes of breast cancer, we conducted a systematic search in PubMed with 106 search terms for articles published in 2006-2013. Eighty-nine articles reported on environmental chemicals and breast cancer. Studies included women in 31 different countries, mostly from developed regions, though the extension of studies into less developed regions is a reflection of the rising incidence of the disease on a global scale. Brody et al conducted a similar review from 2000-2006. Since then, the strength of evidence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and breast cancer risk has grown, specifically showing that postpartum levels increase risk of breast cancer in younger women. Organophosphate pesticide exposures remain a large focus. Although results are inconsistent across studies, early life exposure to DDT increased breast cancer risk in one study. Occupational studies highlight job histories, such as health care, agriculture, and automotive manufacturing and mechanic work that show increased risk across multiple studies. Research on ambient air pollution from vehicles and industry was uniformly associated with breast cancer risk. Exposures to newer chemicals of interest, including phthalates and perfluorinated compounds were evaluated in few studies. An increasing number of women and their families are affected by breast cancer across the globe. This review underscores the importance of identifying environmental risk factors to prevent the disease's upward trend in incidence and mortality.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify environmental chemical risk factors of breast cancer that have been observed in epidemiological studies. Design new strategies to prevent exposures to environmental chemicals that increase breast cancer risk.

Keyword(s): Breast Cancer, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I recently earned my MPH with a focus in environmental health. I now work with Silent Spring Institute, a research organization dedicated to identifying and breaking the links between environmental chemicals and breast cancer. I have personally reviewed the original epidemiological breast cancer literature for this abstract, along with my co-author, Dr. Julia Brody. This work builds on Dr. Brody's review of environmental pollutants and breast cancer, published in the journal Cancer in 2007.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.