Breast cancer is easily the most well-studied of all cancers. Hundreds, if not thousands of research studies have identified the many risk factors that makes a woman susceptible to breast cancer. These risks are now available in a database, with links to the supporting evidence.
The Science Review Database is a joint project of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer Science Review, and the Silent Spring Institute. It includes information on breast cancer risk factors such as diet, obesity, smoking, physical activity, and more than 216 carcinogenic chemicals. The database only takes into account environmental factors but not the genetic factors.
The carcinogens included in the database were those that were tested in animal studies and exhibited induction of tumors in the mammary glands of these animals. The current database pooled together data from other databases which are not specific for breast cancer, namely
- US National Toxicology Program (NTP)
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs
- 11th Report on Carcinogens (11th ROC)
- Carcinogenic Potency Database (CPDB)
- Chemical Carcinogenesis Research Information System (CCRIS) database
Included in the database are besides the identity and the characteristics of the chemicals are:
According to Dr. Robert Schneider, co-director of breast cancer research at New York University School of Medicine, the top three risk factors he thinks most associated with breast cancer are bisphenol A (BPA), radiation exposure from CT scans and delayed first pregnancy. Other experts would probably have other opinions on this.
However, we cannot deny that we live in an environment full of chemicals. According to the database, approximately 80,000 chemicals have been registered for commercial use in the US. So far, only about 100 of these have been identified as human carcinogens by the IARC.
Although many factors have been associated with breast cancer, Schneider said his top three would include the
The mammary carcinogen database is far from complete and data development is still ongoing.
According to Dr. Schneider
“Breast cancer is multifactorial. It would be rare for there to be a single environmental chemical that alone would be sufficient to cause an increase in breast cancer…In many cases, an increased risk of breast cancer is quite small, and we don’t yet know how each factor affects the risk of breast cancer. [Similar to a puzzle] we need to know how all of the pieces fit together, and this database begins to help us start assessing some of that.”
Photo credit: stock. xchng