We all carry a body burden from the chemical swirl of our environment. But when does that burden grow too heavy? Which chemicals can be tolerated, and which trigger or hasten the development of cancerous cells?
To help clarify the chemical risks for breast cancer, 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.”
Reviews and commentaries on the Environment and Breast Cancer Science Reviews databases were published in Environmental Factors in Breast Cancer, a supplement issue of Cancer.
|Evidence from Humans
|Evidence from Animals
|Commentaries on the Science Reviews
Epidemiology Reviews Database
In a systematic search of scientific research indexed in the online medical resource PubMed, the research team identified 450 primary epidemiologic research articles on breast cancer and environmental pollutants, physical activity, body size, and prospective studies of dietary factors.
For each article, the Science Review database includes quick access to basic study information and critical assessments:
- the bibliographic citation and abstract or a link to a copyrighted abstract;
- information about the study population, exposure assessment method, study design, results, and analyses of ethnic minority populations, early life exposures, or interactions with inherited genes;
- assessments of the study’s strengths and weaknesses; and
- interpretation of the study’s results.
Articles are searchable by topic. In addition, the database includes about 50 citations to review articles, methods papers, and exposure assessments that aid in interpreting the primary research. The database includes studies of environmental pollutants published through June 2006 and in other topic areas through May 2005. Review methods are described in the review articles published in Cancer.