Where’s that smoking gun? Unfortunately, definitive proof of environmental causes of breast cancer is difficult to establish, largely because multiple factors throughout a woman’s lifecycle affect her risk of developing the disease. The kind of studies that could provide the simplest evidence—randomized controlled trials—would be unethical; no one should be intentionally exposed to suspected carcinogens.
Cohort studies are therefore a crucial resource for unlocking clues to environmental effects on our health. These studies, which follow participants over many years, are expensive, however, and results accrue only slowly. Adding environmental pollutants to existing cohort studies can be an effective and efficient way to learn more.
Silent Spring Institute has launched a new interactive tool for increasing researchers’ access to critical data from such studies. The Silent Spring Institute Guide to Breast Cancer Cohort Studies has assembled key information about 50 ongoing cohort studies in which women’s health status was assessed over time and environmental and other exposure data were either collected or could be derived. Researchers can now use the tool to learn more about the studies and gain ideas for potential collaboration.
Development of the Guide to Breast Cancer Cohort Studies was funded by the Avon Foundation for Women.