(NaturalNews) Breast cancer is frequently talked about as if it mysteriously comes out of the blue to attack. But even when women have a known heightened risk for the disease because of a specific gene they carry, only some will actually develop breast cancer. Obviously, breast cancer must be triggered by something other than bad luck or genes alone.
Now a study just published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health provides new clues about what can cause a malignancy to develop in breast tissue. The researchers' conclusion? Exposure to chemicals in the environment appears to play a big role in the development of breast cancer.
In fact, the study confirms that specific jobs pose a higher risk of breast malignancies than other occupations. The explanation is that certain careers are more likely to expose a person to carcinogens (some of which may not have yet been classified as such by government agencies) and chemicals that disrupt the body's hormonal balance via the endocrine system. Industrialized countries - especially in North America - not only are inundated with huge amounts of these chemicals but they also have high rates of breast cancer.
For the new study, scientist James T. Brophy of the University of Stirling in Scotland and his colleagues set out to investigate the possible links between breast cancer and occupation, especially in manufacturing and farming. Their population-based case-control study, carried out in Southern Ontario, Canada, included 1006 breast cancer cases plus 1,147 randomly selected and matched community controls.
The research team also gathered information with interviews and surveys to come up with data on the occupational and reproductive histories of the research subjects. Each job was given a code that reflected the odds of a woman being exposed to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors while at work. The pathology of the breast cancer patients' tumors was assessed to document the endocrine receptor status of the malignancies, too.
The results were dramatic. Across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer. Jobs with increased risk included those involving agriculture, bar/gambling, automotive plastics manufacturing, food canning and metal-working. Premenopausal breast cancer risk among younger women was especially high for those working in the automotive plastics and food canning industries.
What's more, women with lower socioeconomic status had an elevated risk of breast cancer overall. The researchers suggest this could be the result of higher exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in lower-income areas where there are more manufacturing and agricultural industries.
The results of the new study strengthen the evidence linking breast cancer risk and exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. "Our results highlight the importance of occupational studies in identifying and quantifying environmental risk factors and illustrates the value of taking detailed occupational histories of cancer patients," lead researcher Brophy said in a media statement. "Mounting evidence suggests that we need to re-evaluate occupational exposure limits in regulatory protection."
What this also certainly suggests is that it is prudent for everyone to avoid potentially cancer causing chemicals and hormone disruptors not only in the workplace but in the home. For example, as Natural News has reported in depth over the years, bisphenol A, or BPA, is an especially worrisome chemical (and one that is noted in the new study) found in many consumer products, especially plastics. BPA has long been known to disrupt hormones - although the FDA and EPA have failed to ban its use - and the chemical is linked to a host of health problems, including cancer. A study in Molecular Endocrinology, a journal of the Endocrine Society, shows BPA can cause dangerous changes in breast development which increase the odds of developing cancer.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.