Cancer publishes Silent Spring Institute's review of environmental factors and breast cancer

May 15, 2007

Silent Spring Institute has compiled the most comprehensive review to date of scientific research on environmental factors that may increase risk of the disease. The study findings—entitled “Environmental Factors in Breast Cancer”—appeared in the June 15, 2007 issue of the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer.

The state-of-the-science review—commissioned by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and conducted by Silent Spring Institute in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the University of Southern California—involved the collection and assessment of scientific studies on potential links between specific environmental factors and breast cancer.

The research team examined modifiable influences on breast cancer. The result of this portion of the work—the Epidemiology Reviews Database—includes critical reviews of approximately 450 primary epidemiologic research articles on breast cancer and diet, environmental pollutants, physical activity, and body size. This database, which includes articles published through June 2006, is updated periodically.

After synthesizing data from national and international sources, the researchers also identified 216 chemicals that cause mammary tumors in animals. They then used that information to create a searchable online database featuring detailed information on the carcinogens. The Mammary Carcinogens Review Database offers summary assessments of the carcinogenic potential of each chemical, data on mutagenicity, opportunities for exposure in the general population and for women at work, and other characteristics of chemical use, sources, and regulation. The database includes references to 900 studies.

“While it’s disturbing to learn that so many chemicals may be linked to breast cancer,” says Dr. Julia Brody, executive director of Silent Spring Institute, “we must remember that we have a great opportunity to save thousands of lives by identifying those links, limiting exposure, and finding safer alternatives. It’s critical that we integrate this information into policies that govern chemical exposures.”

Resources or References

Brody, J.G., K.P. Moysich, O. Humblet, K. R. Attfield, G.B. Beehler, R.A. Rudel. 2007. Environmental pollutants and breast cancer: Epidemiologic studies. Cancer, 109(S12):2667-2711.