Environmental and Occupational Health
Environmental Pollution and Breast Cancer
About 267,000 women in the U.S. will get a diagnosis of some kind of breast cancer this year. The rate at which new cancers are diagnosed has increased more than 40% since the early 1970s, and the number of cases continues to rise in the United States and internationally.
At the same time that these increases have occurred, the number of synthetic chemicals in our environment has skyrocketed. Because most women who get breast cancer have no family history or known genetic risk (70% have no known risk factors besides age), many are questioning whether environmental pollutants play a role in the rising rates of breast cancer.
An increasing amount of scientific research is yielding evidence that there are links between chemical exposures and breast cancer. To read the most recent research, see State of the Evidence: What is the Connection Between the Environment and Breast Cancer? (pdf) and “Environmental Pollutants and Breast Cancer” (pdf).
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Last revised: March 2005
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