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Environmental Toxins, Radiation May Be Tied to Breast Cancer
Date:3/19/2008

-- phthalates, which the Breast Cancer Fund report identifies as a breast cancer risk -- was in the news last week when the U.S. Senate passed legislation strengthening the Consumer Product Safety Commission with an amendment requiring all children's toys and child-care products to be free of these hormone system disruptors. A study by Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia last year found that phthalates accelerated breast development and genetic changes in newborn female lab rats, a condition that might predispose the animals to breast cancer later in life.

Exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogens in the body, called xenoestrogens, is thought to be the reason more girls are entering puberty at younger ages, according to Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund.

In addition to phthalates, the new report lists other endocrine-disrupting compounds that the study authors say have been shown to affect the risk for breast cancer in humans, or the risk of mammary cancer in animals. Those compounds, according to the report, include:

  • Pesticides such as DDT, dieldrin, aldrin and heptachlor; triazine herbicides
  • Bisphenol, a chemical used to make plastics, epoxy resins and dental sealants
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (byproducts of combustion)
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dioxins
  • Alkyphenols (industrial chemicals used in cleaning products)
  • Metals including copper, cobalt, nickel and lead
  • Parabens (anti-microbials used in personal care products)
  • Food additives such as compounds given to cattle and sheep to enhance growth

The report also cites environmental factors that may exert cancer-causing effects without hormone disruption. Those factors include exposure to the petrochemical solvent benzene; organic solvents used in the computer, furniture and textile industries; polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in a variety of appliances, food packages
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