According to breastcancer.org,1 one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, and nearly 40,000 women lose their lives to the disease each year.
With such odds stacked against you, what, if anything, can you do to prevent becoming a statistic? In truth, there are many measures you can take—each of which will help decrease your risk.
It's important to realize that less than 10 percent of all breast cancer cases are thought to be related to genetic risk factors.2 The remainder—90 percent—appear to be triggered by environmental factors.
I strongly believe that cancer is preventable through appropriate lifestyle changes, such as cleaning up your diet, optimizing your vitamin D levels, exercising, and avoiding toxins from every source you can.
This means taking careful inventory of the household and personal care products you use, and the furnishings and other potentially toxic items you get into contact with on a daily basis. Toxic overexposure undoubtedly play a majorrole in cancer development, and recent studies are finally starting to shed light on the worst offenders.
Scientists Identify 'Highest Priority' Toxins for Breast Cancer Prevention
According to recent research published in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) journal, Environmental Health Perspectives,3 you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by avoiding certain chemicals found in common, everyday products. As reported by Rodale:4
"Because the study found that animal tests are able to predict likely human breast carcinogens, the new report could serve as a major step forward in breast cancer prevention, expanding the list of possible breast cancer triggers. That's especially important because only about 10 percent of breast cancers are genetic in nature—scientists believe environment plays a huge role...
'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,' says Julia Brody, PhD, study author and executive director at Silent Spring Institute. 'Reducing chemical exposures could save many, many women's lives.'"
In a previous study, the researchers had identified 216 chemicals that increase mammary gland tumors in rodents. In this paper, they narrowed the focus to 102 chemicals that large numbers of women are exposed to on a regular basis, through food, medications, air pollution, or consumer products.
They then prioritized the chemicals, and grouped them based on exposure, carcinogenic potential, and chemical structure. This sorting resulted in 17 chemical groups of related chemicals, which were flagged as "high priority" due to their ability to consistently produce mammary tumors in animal tests.
Their list of cancer-causing chemical groups to avoid, and their most common sources of exposure, includes the following. Another 27 different carcinogens that do not fit into the chemical categories listed below are also considered high priority. These chemicals include certain ones found in pesticides, consumer products, and food.
Two examples of the latter are methyl eugenol, which is used in processed food as a natural and artificial flavoring, and nitrosamines in smoked meats. The researchers also list obesity and medical radiation as preventable risk factors, the latter of which would include unnecessary mammograms.
High Priority Chemicals to Avoid for Breast Cancer Prevention
Acrylamide: Diet (especially starchy foods, such as French fries, cooked at high temperatures), tobacco smoke, and polyacrylamide gels in consumer products, such as diapers
Aromatic amines: Polyurethane, pesticides, Azo dyes, and many other products
Benzene: Gasoline (riding in a car, pumping gasoline, and storing gasoline in a basement or attached garage), tobacco smoke, adhesive removers, paints, sealants, finishers, and engine fuel and oils
Halogenated organic solvents:Dry cleaning, hair spray propellant, soil fumigants, food processing, gasoline additives, and paint and spot removers
Ethylene (EtO) and propylene oxide (PO): EtO is agas used to sterilize medical equipment, food and spices, clothing, and musical instruments. Also found in tobacco smoke and auto exhaust. PO is a sterilant and fumigant. Also found in automotive and paint products
1,3-Butadiene: Cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust, gasoline fumes, and emissions from industrial facilities
Heterocyclic amines: Meat cooked at high temperatures, and tobacco smoke
Endogenous and pharmaceutical hormones and other endocrine disrupting chemicals: Estrogens, progesterone, and DES, along with other hormones
Non-hormonal pharmaceuticals that have hormonal activity:These include four chemotherapeutic agents, two veterinary drugs possibly present in food, the diuretic furosemide, the anti-fungal griseofulvin, and several anti-infective agents
MX: One of hundreds of genotoxic by-products of drinking water disinfection
Perfluorooctanoic acid PFOA:Non-stick and stain-resistant coatings on rugs, furniture, clothes and cookware; fire-fighting applications, cosmetics, lubricants, paints, and adhesives
Nitro-PAHs: Air pollution, primarily from diesel exhaust
PAHs: Tobacco smoke, air pollution, and charred foods
Ochratoxin A (a naturally occurring mycotoxin): Contaminated grain, nuts, and pork products
Styrene: Food that has been in contact with polystyrene; consumer products and building materials, including polystyrene, carpets, adhesives, hobby and craft supplies, and home maintenance products