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Wealth, Not Chemicals, Increase Breast Cancer Risk

  December, 14 2005 11:05
your information resource in human molecular genetics
Women who live in certain regions of the United States have a significant increase in breast cancer risk, compared with the rest of the US, but this is an effect of affluence rather than pollution, according to an article in the December issue of Nature Reviews Cancer (Vol. 5, No. 12).

Several studies have sought to determine whether women in highly developed areas of the Great Lakes region, the San Francisco Bay area and of the Northeast - particularly Long Island, NY - might have been exposed to high levels of chemical pollutants or pesticides. Many other studies instead found that breast cancer risk increases with socio-economic status - more affluent women have fewer children, have children at later stages of life, and are more likely to receive hormone replacement therapy - all of these increase breast cancer risk.

Deborah Winn, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, summarizes the findings from the dozens of studies of 'breast cancer clusters' around the US. Focusing on studies carried out on the population of Long Island, NY -- known as the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project (LIBCSP) -- Winn explains how samples from thousands of women were examined for exposure to chemicals such as organochlorines (such as DDT and PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (found in burned fossil fuels), as well as to electromagnetic fields. The surprising association between factors such as reproductive history and breast cancer has been controversial, but is supported by experiments in animal models.

Author contact:

Deborah M. Winn (Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA)
E-mail: winnde@mail.nih.gov

Additional contact (not an author):

Christopher Benz (Buck Institute's Program for Cancer and Developmental Therapeutics, Novato, CA, USA)
E-mail: cbenz@buckinstitute.org

Editorial contacts:
Kris Novak (Senior Editor, Nature Reviews Cancer)
E-mail: k.novak@natureny.com

(C) Nature Reviews Cancer press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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