June 22, 2011
By Matt McMillen
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
Researchers Say Tests Are Needed to Evaluate Effect of Common Chemicals on Breast Health
Excerpt: Testing chemicals to determine their impact on breast development and breast cancer risk should be a standard part of the regulatory process, according to a new report in Environmental Health Perspectives. However, few chemicals on the market undergo such evaluations.
"Our review advocates modifying testing protocols so that they have a better assessment of breast tissue," says researcher Ruthann Rudel, MS, director of research at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass. "If we are concerned with breast cancer, we have to look at the breast when we test chemicals."
The new report, whose authors also include staff at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health, brings together the results of a variety of animal studies that show that early exposures -- including in the womb -- to some common chemicals lead to abnormalities in breast development.
The abnormalities include early and accelerated growth, as well as affecting the ability to breastfeed. Some also appear to increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.