Chemicals and Cancer


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Breast Cancer Authority

Breast Cancer & The EnvironmentBy: Julia Brody, PhD, is the executive director of Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts.

The statistics on worldwide increases in breast cancer risk are grim. Rapidly increasing risk in the developing world, where mammography is still rare, tells us we are seeing more disease, not just more diagnosis. The increase cannot be due to inherited genes either, because inherited genes can’t change over just a couple of generations.

Studies that show increased risk for women who move from low-incidence regions to high-incidence countries, like the United States, point to something about the way we live in industrial societies. Thus far, scientists have been able to explain less than half of breast cancer risk with all the identified risk factors. That means that additional, unknown causes must be at work. If we can find out why incidence is increasing, we can learn to prevent future disease.

Where should we look…

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