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New Study Calls out 17 Common Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer

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A new study spotlights the ubiquity of environmental toxins, identifying 17 common chemicals that should be the target of breast cancer prevention efforts, and marking a "huge step forward" in the research called for by a federal committee.

The study by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and Harvard School of Public Health was published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

"Every woman in America has been exposed to chemicals that may increase her risk of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately, the link between toxic chemicals and breast cancer has largely been ignored," Julia Brody, PhD, study author and Executive Director at Silent Spring Institute, said in a statement.

More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, but the SSI states that only "5‐10 percent of those are due to high‐risk inherited genes," emphasizing the need for research on environmental exposure-related diagnoses.

Yet "studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer," Brody stated.

The new study also found that the same chemicals that have been found to cause mammary cancer in lab rats were also linked to breast cancer in women.

The researchers identified chemicals women may be commonly exposed to and that are rodent mammary carcinogens, and placed those into 17 groups.

They include chemicals in gasoline, diesel and other exhaust, flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, paint removers, and disinfection byproducts in drinking water. Among the specific chemicals on the list of 17 are benzene, which can be found in gasoline, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke and solvents; styrene, found in building materials and consumer products made from polystyrene, indoor air, cigarette smoke, polystyrene food packaging; and PFOA and related compounds, which can be found in grease-, water- and stain-proof coatings, or contaminated drinking water. The list also includes endocrine disruptors, which have received increased attention in recent years due to their connection to products containing BPA.