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Study Finds Numerous Breast Cancer Causing Environmental Carcinogens

Breast cancer is one of the most common intrusive types of cancer in women with the highest cases in North America and Europe while it continues to affect women of all ages, worldwide. Only five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are linked with inherited genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Researchers say that a superior comprehension of how environmental carcinogens contribute to breast cancer is required to stop future breast cancers and lower frequency rates.

They have found numerous environmental carcinogens that increase the risk of breast cancer. They used ionizing radiation as a model and distinguished key mechanisms within the cells that when disrupted cause breast cancer.

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Ruthann Rudel, an environmental toxicologist at Silent Spring Institute and one of the study’s co-authors. She says that researchers are fully aware that several environmental carcinogens play a significant role in the development of breast cancer.

But when regulators tried to assess whether an environmental carcinogen is destructive or not, the tests they used didn’t catch the effects on the breast. This gap in testing means that green light is given to potential cancer-causing environmental carcinogens for use in consumer products.

This study is published in the journal Archives of Toxicology in which Rudel and study’s coauthor Jessica Helm reviewed more than four hundred investigations to distinguish the sequence of natural changes that happen in breast cells and tissue from the hour of radiation exposure to the development of a tumor. Then they made a map of these consecutive changes, revealing numerous interconnected pathways by which ionizing radiation prompts breast cancer.

They made the map using a system called an Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP). AOPs were designed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a way to speak how complex diseases like breast cancer development, and to support regulators, drug companies, and chemical manufacturers anticipate how environmental carcinogens may affect diseases early in the research process.

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Rudel tells that it turns out, to be expected, breast cancer is much more intricate than how it’s passed on in traditional cancer models. Ionizing radiation triggers breast cancer through DNA damage in traditional models.

A new model by Silent Spring shows that ionizing radiations not only damages DNA but also increases the production of two molecules called receptive nitrogen and oxygen species. The production of these two molecules causes destruction inside cells, altering DNA, causing inflammation, and disturbing other significant biological activities.

Rudel says that The Silent Spring team also found that breast cancer-causing biological changes are highly effected by reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen. Reproductive hormones also animate the proliferation of cells within the breast, similarly environmental carcinogens encourage cell proliferation to enable the breast more susceptible to tumors. Particularly, the breast is more susceptible during the critical periods of development like pregnancy or puberty.

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Linda Birnbaum is the former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. She says that the present study is an important contributor to the field and a true wake-up reminder for regulators.

Regulators have been missing basic data by keeping an oversimplified model of how carcinogens cause cancer, potentially allowing carcinogens to enter into air, water, and products.

The AOP project is a part of the Silent Spring Institute’s Safer Chemicals Program which is growing new cost-effective methods of screening chemicals for their effects on the breast. Information created by this exertion will help government organizations control carcinogens more successfully and help organizations in developing safe items.


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